Nancy Brachey

A few tasks await at midsummer

Knock Out roses rank among the best landscape plants for sunny areas. Grooming and fertilizer at midsummer should encourage fresh growth tha will keep the plant looking good until autumn.
Knock Out roses rank among the best landscape plants for sunny areas. Grooming and fertilizer at midsummer should encourage fresh growth tha will keep the plant looking good until autumn. Observer file photo

Well, here we are at mid-July, and there is plenty of summer ahead. Unless you are someone who is out and about at dawn, the high temperatures of recent weeks have not been ideal for gardening.

Fortunately, some midsummer tasks that are important to keep flower beds going and growing are not too time-consuming and onerous. This bit of care should give annuals and perennials a lift that will carry them through into autumn.

The first thing to think about is a dose of fertilizer. It can be liquid or granular and should be applied at the rate directed on the package. Be sure to follow up granular fertilizer with water to get it working in the soil. Or wait for rainfall if the weather is promising.

While you apply fertilizer, take a close look at your plants for signs of insects or disease.

Where a few leaves are marred with holes caused by insects or bad spots caused by a disease, simply pinch off those leaves. This close-up may help you see an insect at work, but they may have done their dirty work and gone away already. Where disease seems to be spreading, consider using a fungicide to protect the rest of the plant. Where disease or an insect seems to have wrecked the plant, take it out and put in something fresh.

Garden zinnias are particularly vulnerable to leaf spots, so look over them carefully. Since they are so susceptible, these tall colorful zinnias should probably get a protective application of fungicide.

Deadheading is also important now. Removing spent blooms from annuals, perennials and roses will encourage fresh growth and new bloom. Take care not to snip off any developing buds.

Another tidying habit that is good to do now is to remove the spent bloom stems of daylilies. This is a question that often comes up about daylilies and irises. The foliage of these plants must be protected and kept growing. But once the flower stem has bloomed out, it should be cut off close to the base.

Knock Out roses will benefit greatly from a light pruning that gets rid of the early-summer spent flowers. Since new growth is likely to be emerging already, this could be a tedious task as you snip out the old blooms.

Try to avoid cutting off new growth where you can, but if some must go, don’t fret. These are vigorous plants that rapidly regenerate now, especially if you give them a dose of rose fertilizer at the rate directed on the package and keep them watered to get the fertilizer working and the plant growing. Given good care and a sunny position, Knock Outs will bloom deep into autumn.

Autumn, just think of it: cool weather.

Nancy Brachey: nbrachey@charlotteobserver.com

Ask Nancy

Q. We weren’t successful with Confederate jasmine on a latticed trellis. Clematis doesn’t appeal to us. What is another choice?

A. Carolina jessamine is a vigorus, evergreen vine that blooms in spring with pretty yellow flowers. It looks good most of the year. Since you live in South Carolina, it would be a good choice since this is the state flower.

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