Watering Can

CAPTION: Keep plants well-hydrated during the hot summer months. ATTRIBUTION: Annie Mole (Flickr)

Summer is an excellent time to start a garden or to replant your existing one. Now is the time to plant your summer annuals and veggies, including basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplant, which all thrive in the hot summer heat. While summer usually means drier conditions, more weeds to pull, and the potential of insect infestations, there are numerous things you can do to successfully maintain your garden. Keep your flowers healthy and your crops plentiful this summer by following a few simple gardening tips.

Fertilize the Soil

Strong plants are better able to withstand the stress of dry weather and high temperatures. Give your plants a boost with liquid fertilizer about two weeks after planting or in times of stress. Liquid fertilizers feed plants directly, giving the plants the nutrients they need to survive a hot summer.

Keep Budding Plants Hydrated

As various types of flowers initiate budding in the summer, a sudden loss of buds is often a consequence of the plant drying out. Keep your flowers hydrated by using mulch and watering the plant deeply once or twice a week during hot, dry conditions.

Choose Plants Wisely

Opt for perennials, heat-resistant crops, or plants that have an extensive root system when buying for your garden. Many types of annuals have shallow root systems that easily dry out during the summer due to high temperatures. Heat-resistant plants require less watering and are better able to withstand summer weather.

Help Potted Plants Stay Cool

Plants in pots can quickly become overheated. To keep plants and roots cool, lightly mulch when possible and let the pots stand in saucers filled with moist sand. Avoid standing potted plants in saucers of water, as this encourages mosquito breeding and root rot.

Look for Signs of Disease

Ornamental plants are more susceptible to powdery mildew disease during the early summer. This condition causes a white film to develop on susceptible plants, such as roses, phlox, and crape myrtles. Treat for powdery mildew disease by pruning off any infected leaves and using an approved fungicide.

Invest in Garden Shade Cloth

Shade cloth may be essential during the summer months in areas that are prone to high temperatures and intense sun. Use it to protect young and fragile seedlings from the heat by providing them various degrees of shade. Shade cloth can also be used in combination with metal half-hoops that can be placed over your garden beds to prevent the cloth from touching the plants.

Water in the Morning

The best time to water your garden is in the morning, when it’s still relatively cool outdoors. This allows plenty of time for the plants to become hydrated and the foliage to dry before sunset. Watering in the morning reduces the risk of mildew and other types of fungi attacking plants due to excessive moisture.

Be Aware of Thrips

Thrips are tiny insects that are known to wreak havoc in gardens. A common symptom of these pests includes the browning of the edges of petals, especially in peonies and roses. While thrips are difficult to control, systemic insecticides may work to rid your garden of these small winged insects.

Invite Good Insects to Stay

During the early summer, beneficial bug populations generally begin to build up. These good insects are highly effective at keeping plant pests at bay. Ladybugs, praying mantis, and parasitic wasps are just a few of the insects that can help save your harvest. Consider planting blooming flowers that will attract these beneficial bugs.