Monthly Garden Tips

      Come back to the Horticulture tab each month for new helpful tips and tricks from our Master Gardeners on what to be doing in or out of the garden.  These tips are for the growing season and beyond!  Happy gardening!



  • Help roses and other perennials toughen up for winter by withholding fertilizer for the rest of the garden season.
  • If the soil in large planters dries out enough to pull away from the sides, water slowly and repeatedly, pushing the soil back in place as it absorbs moisture.  Set hanging baskets and smaller pots in tubs of warm water until the soil is evenly moist, and then push the soil back in place.  If some plants in containers are beginning to look shabby, replace them with osteospermum, chrysanthemum, calendula, diascia or other plants that will look nice well into the fall.
  • Prevent fungal disease of large-flowered marigolds by removing blossoms as soon as they fade.
  • If a purple coneflower is distorted with light-green leaves and a branching top, immediately pull and discard the plant before leaf hoppers spread the disease to healthy plants.
  • If the leaves of garden phlox are yellowing and dying, thin each clump, leaving only three to five of the healthiest shoots to improve air circulation.
  • Expect the mother hen of your succulent hen and chicks to die after flowering, leaving the chicks to carry on.
  • Plant fall-flowering crocus, autumn crocus (Colchicum) and Madonna Lily (Lilium candidum) bulbs.  Order hardy spring-flowering bulbs for October planting.
  • If your perennial garden has too few blooms, plan now to add more August bloomers this fall or next spring.  Consider black-eyed Susan, goldenrod, Japanese anemone, plumbago, Russian sage, helenium, and tall sedum.
  • Remove any spotted portions of Iris leaves. Dig and divide crowded rhizomes.  Use a sharp knife to cut the rhizomes.  Discard old, woody sections as well as any that show signs of rot or borer damage.  In a sunny garden bed that has good drainage, enrich the soil with compost and then replant young healthy-looking divisions that have five to eight leaves each.  Space the rhizomes 15 to 18 inches apart and cover them with no more than an inch of soil.
  • Plant dormant crowns of oriental poppies.  If you have clumps of poppies that have grown too crowded, dig and divide them now.
  • Plant a fall salad garden by sowing seeds of lettuce, radish, and spinach.  For gourmet greens to harvest late in the fall, plant seeds of mache (also called lamb’s lettuce or corn salad).
  • Clean out any spotted or dying tomato foliage to improve air circulation. Avoid overhead watering.
  • Set cans or boards under ripening melons.  Harvest watermelons when they have a dull look, yellowish underside, a dark-colored stem and shriveled tendrils near the melon.  Watch muskmelons for the color to change from green to tan or yellow, and harvest as soon as the melons pull from the vine with a gentle tug.  For best taste, hope for dry and sunny weather when melons are maturing.
  • Plant turnip seeds early this month for a harvest of sweet, tender roots this fall.
  • Continue to harvest herbs such as basil, savory and oregano regularly.  Clip off and discard any flower buds that form.
  • Store fresh picked tomatoes on the counter, not the refrigerator.
  • Stay out of the garden whenever the leaves are wet, to avoid transferring diseases to healthy plants.
  • After the last of the summer-bearing raspberries are picked, cut all the bearing canes at ground level.  Save the new canes to produce next year’s crop.  Expect fall-bearer such as Heritage to start ripening this month.  Remember to water if the weather is dry, because raspberries are thirsty plants.
  • In dry weather, water this year’s new tree’s and shrubs regularly.
  • If you have an automatic sprinkler system for your lawn, guard against killing your trees and shrubs with too much water.  Avoid daily watering and, if Mother Nature delivers an inch or more of rain a week, override the automatic system to skip the watering altogether.
  • Where grass is failing under shallow-rooted trees, replace it with groundcover such as, periwinkle (Vinca minor), or barrenwort (Epimedium).
  • Replace seed in bird feeders often so it won’t mold in hot, humid weather.

Tips provided by Jan Riggenbach from Midwest Gardening online newsletter.



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