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David Daehnke
United States

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Gardening Tips for May and June



* Peonies require plenty of water to fill out the flower buds and often benefit from an application of organic fertilizer.

* If chrysanthemums and asters have not been divided, this work can be done now before they get too large.

* Nearly all flowers seeds can be directly sown in the garden during the next few weeks. Fine seeds such as petunias may be kept in place with a light coating of peat moss.

* When seedlings that have been grown in a cold frame or inside the home are ready to be set out, choose a cloudy, quiet day if possible.

* If you desire large peony blooms, you must pick off the side buds that form along the stem. This will redirect all of the energy to the lone flower bud at the tip of the stem, otherwise known as the terminal bud. Peonies should also be staked no before they get too large. A support that encircle the whole plant loosely is the best kind.

* An easy and non-toxic way to kill the weeds that grow in the cracks of your driveway and sidewalk is to pour boiling water onto these plants. Try not to pour excess that can run off into your existing beds or lawns.

* Chrysanthemums can be made into bushy plants by pinching the tips of the branches judiciously until the end of June, then allow the shoots to grow. These bushier plants will have more blooms than one not pinched.

* Keep all newly planted trees, shrubs, perennials and roses well watered so that the roots will not dry out.

* Remember to leave the foliage on all spring flowering bulbs until they turn yellow. Even though the plant may be done flowering, it is now storing the energy needed for next year’s blooms.

* Keep the faded flowers picked from pansies to encourage new blooms.

* Irises should be given an application of bone meal now. Work it into the soil and water thoroughly when done. You will not see the results this year, but will next year.

* Cut sprays of lilacs freely, but keep in mind the shape of the plant when cutting. Also try to open the plant up with your pruning cuts to help deter powdery mildew.

* Members of the squash family (also including melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, etc.) should be planted as soon as the danger of frost has passed. Be sure to plant them is full sun in a well-drained soil.

* New Zealand spinach is a good vegetable for hot, dry weather and can be cut several times during the season.

* Set out tomato, eggplant, pepper and corn by the end of this month for the north, earlier in the south.

* Spring flowering shrubs can be pruned after the blossoming season is over.

* Prepare for the heat that will be with us all too soon. Mulch your perennial borders and rose beds to keep these plants alive through the summer.



* There is still time to plant water lilies in pools or in tubs (which are easy to move). Make sure you add goldfish to the water features to help cut down on mosquitoes.

* Houseplants can be moved to summer quarters in a partially shaded section of the outdoor garden. Remember that they are in pots and need regular watering and feeding, especially if they are actively growing. Even better is to plunge to pots into the ground up to the lips of the pots.

* There is still time to plant dahlia roots, but make sure to set the stakes in the ground at the same time.

* When planting gladiolus corms, try to stagger the plantings by two weeks to create a succession of blooms.

* Early flowering garden plants which spread rapidly, including Phlox, should be divided soon after they have flowered.

* Portulacas a good old-fashioned, low growing flower for quick results in a hot, exposed situation. You can sow the seeds at this time or purchase flats are your local garden center.

* Softwood cutting of woody plants are readily made at this time of year.

* If grape hyacinths are permitted to go to seed, they will self-sow over a wide area, which is perfect for a naturalized setting.

* The foliage of all early blooming bulbs should be left until it is limp or yellow. These plants are storing the energy (food) needed for blooming next spring.

* The blooming stalks of irises should be removed once the flowers have faded. Do not permit them to go to seed.

* This is a good time to sow seeds of perennials, and can be directly sown into the bed you wish them to grow. Remember that not all perennials come true from seed.

* Break off the old flower heads from rhododendrons and laurels, taking care not to remove any of the branch.

* Bedding plants of all kinds can be planted out now. Be sure to water the plants as well as the soil in which they are being planted for better survival rates.

* Newly planted woody plants need an abundance of water to promote new top and root growth.

* Experiments have shown that flowers, in particular roses, keep best if they are harvested late in the afternoon or evening. They should be plunged into water ASAP.

* As you walk around your garden, take note of which plants need to be divided or moved in the fall and attach a small label to the plant to remind yourself.

* Sweet corn can be planted now, and it will make rapid growth. A second planting can be made in the middle of the month.

* When removing dandelions from your lawn by hand, remember that they are considered a fine eating green for your salad, and are actually grown for this purpose.

* Lettuce will bolt (go to seed) in the heat of summer, so continue to harvest as much as possible before the bolt. A second crop of lettuce can be started in late July for a fall crop.

* Peaches and plums can be thinned to one fruit to each six to eight inches of branch for peaches, less for plums, after their June drop.

* Prune duetzias, spireas, viburnums, and weigelias as soon as the blooming season is over. Japanese quince can also be pruned, but to a lighter extent.

* Lawns should be kept well watered (town drought warnings kept in mind) during the dry spells. Cutting heights should also be raised to help shade the bases of the plants from the strong summer sun.

If you have a particular question you would like the Gardening Guru to answer, e-mail me at, or check to see if your question has already been asked on the Question and Answer Message Board. Good Luck!


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