Summer is here at last, time to give your houseplants a break. Many can be put outside in a sheltered and shaded spot for a few weeks( don’t forget to bring them back in September as it cools down).
One of the main jobs now is to water, but water wisely. Don’t spray all the foliage, as this will scorch in the sun. Water the soil instead and water at night or first thing in the morning. Keep all plants deadheaded, especially in basket and tubs, and give them a regular feed and they will keep on flowering. Prune shrubs such as Weigela and Philadelphus once they have finished flowering to keep them in shape. Conifer hedges such as Leylandi can also be clipped now. Tie in shoots on climbing and rambling roses and clematis as horizontally as possible. This will encourage new shoots. Clematis with larger flowers sometimes develop ‘clematis wilt’. The stems blacken and collapse. This is caused by a fungal infection. It doesn’t kill the plant and it will send up new shoots, however it may be worth digging it up if possible in the dormant season and plant it deeper. Later viticella and perennial species don’t suffer from this problem. The large flowering Iris varieties can be divided now. Cut the leaves back by half. Dig up the clump, divide into smaller pieces, making sure you have shoots on each piece and discard the old centre of the plant. Replant in full sun and with the rhizome on the surface of the soil so that it can be baked by the sun.
If you have a bamboo which is producing flowers, remove them as they will weaken the plant. If you should want to plant one, make sure that it is a clump forming variety as some will spread rapidly.
Protect soft fruit with netting before the birds eat it all and if you have apple or plum trees laden with fruit they may need propping up with a forked stake. It may also be worth thinning the fruit a little. Gooseberries, red and white currants can be summer pruned now. It is probably best to consult a book or website such as the RHS on pruning. They will give a step by step guide. All fruit will benefit from a regular watering if the weather is dry as they consist of a lot of water. This also applies to vegetables. If you grow tomatoes, pinch out the growing tip when it reaches the top of the greenhouse or if growing outside, after 4 trusses have formed. Keep them fed and watered to prevent problems with fruit splitting and ‘blossom end rot’. If the weather is moist and warm, this fungal infection can affect these and potatoes which are the same family of plants. It shows with leaves getting brown and shrivelling up also stems will blacken. They should be removed immediately and either burned or binned, but not put in the compost bin.
Next month on August 13th you will be able to see a magnificent display of fruit, vegetables and flowers at the Broadstone Horticultural Society’s annual Summer Show. Also classes for cookery, photography, floral art, craft and children’s classes. If you would like to have a go at showing yourself schedules are available by contacting the show manager on 01202 697241 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org