By Jennifer Fairfield
Diseases are also a problem for flower gardens, and keeping them from getting going is the best chance you have of controlling them. Planting disease resistant varieties when possible is the first step, but regular treatments of fungicides for plants that are susceptible is always a good idea.
Insect pests are another issue in the flower garden this month. If you find an unknown insect on your plants, there are lots of apps for phones that can help identify them – which helps you know how to deal with them. I rely on iNaturalist to help me ID the many creatures I find in my gardens – the good (the soldier beetle, that eats things like aphids, on a coneflower), the bad (the large milkweed bug eating my swamp milkweed), and the ugly (a truly hideous horsefly, the size of a helicopter – I think.).
Keep up with deadheading both annuals and perennials throughout the rest of the season. This article from Fine Gardening give good advice on the how and why of deadheading perennials. For information on deadheading annuals, Proven Winners offers lots of information.
As with veggies, make sure your flowers are getting the water they need. Water in the morning, and close to the soil to prevent diseases. Watering to late in the evening can encourage fungal diseases, as can overhead watering, and watering in the heat of the afternoon wastes water due to evaporation.
Weeds can rob your plants of water and nutrients, they can help to spread disease, and taller weeds can block sunlight from reaching your plants, so weed your flower beds regularly.
Trees & Shrubs:
Last month, I said you should be watering newly planted trees and shrubs regularly, and to consider watering established trees as well, if we got a long, dry period. Guess what – we’ve had a long, dry period, and you should probably be watering those established trees now to keep them from getting seriously stressed going into winter (like the Norway spruce in this picture from my yard).
The problem with trees not getting enough water is that the effects can sometimes take years to really show, especially in established trees. You may think your trees look fine now, but next year, and the following year, you may see signs that they were stressed by the lack of water. This article from Fine Gardening gives a good explanation of how drought affects trees and shrubs, along with some tips for helping to lessen the effects of droughts.
I don’t have any additional updates on the Avian Flu. The recommendations we have been given to-date still hold – if you are going to feed the birds, please regularly clean the feeders with a 10% bleach solution and clean up any debris around feeders. Same goes for bird baths – keep them cleaned out regularly by emptying and refilling daily and scrubbing with 10% bleach at least weekly.
For hummingbirds, clean out and replace the sugar-water in the feeders regularly. The Audubon Society recommends cleaning feeders twice per week during hot weather, and once per week when the weather is cooler. They also have lots of other great information about attracting hummers to your yard at their Hummingbird FAQ page.