Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
July, 2009
Regional Report

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Alyssum's honey fragrance attracts beneficial insects.

Mid-Summer Care for Bloomers

Assuming air temperatures in the high 80s, you can indeed transplant more color into the garden. Some choices include fibrous begonia, calendula (pot and winter marigold), chrysanthemums, crape myrtles, dahlias, daylilies, delphiniums, dianthus (pinks, sweet William), foxgloves, hibiscus, hydrangeas, impatiens, penstemons, petunias, rudbeckias (coneflowers, black-eyed-susan), and salvias. Keep them shaded during the hottest portion of the day, and sprinkle the foliage several times a day for the first week after they're transplanted. Then, gradually increase their time in the direct sun over a week's time, when they should be able to withstand a full day's sun without drooping.

Fill in garden gaps with summer-into-fall bloomers, especially alyssum, celosia, cosmos, petunia, portulaca, red sage, vinca, and zinnia.

Encourage repeat blooming by pinching or cutting back alyssum, coreopsis, crape myrtles, dahlias, delphiniums, dianthus, fuchsias, gaillardias, lobelia, marigolds, penstemons, petunias, rose of Sharon, salvias, and verbenas. Prune chrysanthemums and poinsettias for the last time to encourage them to bush out and keep the stems from becoming scraggly by autumn -- unless you prefer a droopy or curly-stemmed display.

Continue pruning spent blooms on roses weekly or so until fall, down to the first five-part leaf or a bit further to gently shape the plant. Then, feed lightly, and water. Maintaining this schedule will encourage continuous bloom throughout the season. Water only in the mornings to lessen mildew and other disease problems. Tear off -- don't just trim -- rose suckers at the base with a harsh downward and outward pull. Don't be gentle -- the suckers will not return only if you remove or damage the sucker bud at the base.

Dig and store spring-blooming bulbs and tubers when their foliage is completely dry. Gently remove excess soil (but don't wash the tubers), and store them in a cool, dry, dark place.

Dig and divide bearded iris clumps if they're crowding each other or didn't bloom too much last spring. Break off and discard the older central rhizomes that have no foliage. Let the young, healthy rhizomes dry out of the direct sun for several hours so a callous forms over the break before replanting it. On rhizomes with foliage, clip roots to 2 inches in length, remove individual dry leaves, and clip the rest to about an 8-inch fan. Dig compost and bonemeal into the top 6 inches of soil. Replant the rhizomes a foot apart but deep enough only to barely cover the rhizome with soil. Water them in.

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