Richard's top tips for July
Boost bedding. For top flower power, keep pots, baskets and window boxes well watered and feed them once a week with a high potash feed like Flower Power. Also remove flowers as they fade to stop them from going to seed.
Cut hedges. It’s a great time to trim hedges. Try to cut the sides at a slight angle so the bottom is a bit wider than the top. This helps strengthen the hedge and also lets more light reach the base which helps it grow better.
Beetle mania. Lily beetles are a real menace at the moment. If you see the red beetle squash it or spray with Provado Ultimate Bug Killer. Left alone, the pest can strip a lily of leaves in a few days.
Free plants. Most shrubs and climbing plants will root from cuttings very quickly in mid-summer. Choose healthy shoots, take cuttings about 3in long, trim to just below a leaf joint, remove the lower leaves, dip in hormone rooting powder and place in pots of gritty compost.
Clip shape. Cut Leyland hedges soon. Don’t cut them back too hard as they don’t re-grow from bare wood. Yew and beech hedges can be cut any time from now until mid-August.
Wisteria hysteria. If your wisteria doesn’t flower, it’s probably caused by poor pruning. Now’s the perfect time to sort it out. Cut back all side shoots to just 6in to encourage them to start developing flowering buds for next year.
Veg out. Like using oriental veg like Pak Choi in your stir fries? Why not grow your own? It’s dead easy and good fun. Garden centres sell packs of seed which can be sown now and they’ll be ready for harvesting in just a few weeks. Other veg to sow now include peas and salad crops like lettuce and spring onions.
Evil weevil. Noticed little notches in the edge of leaves on plants like rhododendron? Vine weevil may have struck! They’re being nibbled by gold speckled grey beetles which should be squashed on sight. The more serious problem is caused by their grubs which live in the soil and eat roots. Kill them with Provado Ultimate Bug Killer or Just Vine Weevil Killer – Just Green, 01621 785088 – if you’re an organic gardener.
Pamper cacti. Although cacti and succulents can survive without much water, they’ll grow much better if you water them regularly during the summer. Give them a feed too, every fortnight with half the normal strength of diluted liquid tomato food, to encourage them to flower.
Lovely lavender. If you want to dry some flowers, pick them just as they open and hang them in bunches in an airy, shaded spot. Once the plants have finished flowering, cut them back to stop them from getting woody.
More roses. For extra flower power from your roses, take off the old blooms as they fade to stop them from going to seed. For an extra boost, give your plants some rose fertilizer and water it in well to help the feed reach the roots more quickly.
Mist a bean. For the best crop of runner beans, keep them well watered, especially during hot weather. To help the flowers set, mist the plants in the late afternoon/early evening.
Blanket clearance. If masses of green blanket weed are building up in your pond, remove it regularly by twisting it around a stick.
Top tomatoes. Pinch out the top of outdoor tomatoes once they have set four trusses. They’ll ripen faster so you don’t get left with lots of green tomatoes in the autumn.
Pamper camellias. It’s important to keep camellias well watered over the next few weeks. If the plants dry out during the summer, the flower buds have an unfortunate habit of falling off just before they open next spring.
Save seeds. Collect seeds from ripe seed heads on hardy perennials and bedding plants. Save them in envelopes and store in Tupperware type boxes. Check the seed catalogues for the best sowing time. Some of the plants may not grow quite like their parents, but it’s great fun finding out.