Gardens are at their most colourful in mid-summer, after April showers encourage growth and wellness. High summer means nature is blooming in its full glory, with gardens seeing plants showing off their glorious foliage and flower displays – filling borders and patio containers with colour and fragrance. Peak gardening season is well underway, which means there are plenty of jobs to keep gardens looking their best in July.
Marcus Eyles, resident gardening expert and Horticultural Director at Dobbies explained: “July is the time to embrace all your earlier gardening efforts.
“Enjoying plants and flowers, many of which will be putting on their best displays of the year this month.
“Make the most of any good weather, but don’t forget to regularly water and feed your plants, consistency is key!”
Hot weather means watering is even more key, as plants get thirsty too.
The expert advised: “Make sure you keep your show-stopping display of summer colour by regularly watering container plants and add a balanced liquid fertiliser every other week to encourage strong healthy growth and continual flowering.
“Remove dead flowers as soon as they go over to encourage more to follow.
“It is important that you water the trees, shrubs and perennials that were planted in spring.
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“Make sure you are watering the base of the plant and avoid wetting the leaves as they won’t absorb any water this way and wetting the leaf tissue can even encourage fungal diseases.”
But Marcus is keen for gardeners to explore more sustainable gardening ideas as we water.
He explained: “To make water go further, water thoroughly less frequently, rather than little and often – so a few times a week rather than every day, depending on rainfall of course.
“Place buckets under hanging baskets to catch excess water that can be used in other areas of your garden, little changes like this can make a big difference if we were all to do them.”
Summertime means that everything will be growing extremely fast and as a result, you will need to make sure you are mowing your lawn once a week to keep it in good health.
It is also important to water your lawn regularly to prevent it from turning brown and drying out during the hotter months.
If your ground has become dry, spike it gently with a garden fork before watering to aid the penetration of the water.
Marcus advised: “Regular mowing is best for a manicured lawn, reducing the cutting height in hot weather to help prevent drying out.
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“Keeping the blades slightly higher helps the grass resist the extra summer wear.”
The gardening expert also encouraged gardeners to take cuttings from their perennials to “encourage fresh growth”.
He said: “Encourage fresh growth by cutting back herbaceous plants such as delphinium, lupin and hardy geranium after their first flush of flower.
“Put supports in place around tall herbaceous perennials such as delphiniums and gladioli to prevent damage from wind and rain.”
Tender perennials such as fuchsias are best propagated from cuttings, and so July is a great time to get snipping.
As young plants root more easily, cuttings should be taken from the tender new growth for the season.
Either pot the plants now so that they develop sufficient roots to survive in the winter, or hold onto your cuttings until the following spring.
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Marcus added: “Summer prune Wisteria, cutting whippy side shoots back to around five leaves from the main stem.
“This will encourage new flower buds to form and improve your display next year.”
Marcus also noted that kitchen garden crops should be cultivated.
He explained: “Tomato, pepper and cucumber crops require regular feeding with a high potash tomato fertiliser.
“Pinch out side shoots of tomatoes to concentrate growing energy into trusses of fruit. Water regularly and consistently.
“Plant out leeks and brassicas for a winter supply.
“Late sowings of beetroot, radishes, lettuce and salad crops grow quickly in the warm soils for an extended season of fresh vegetables.”
“Continue to earth up main-crop potatoes, to avoid tubers being exposed to the light and turning green.
“Early potatoes will be ready for harvesting, maturing around 10 weeks from planting.”
Gardeners should also be tending to their greenhouse plants this month.
The expert said: “Harden off remaining bedding plants you have been growing from young plug plants.
“Acclimatise over a period of a few days before planting out in their final positions.
“Plant up any pots with tender vegetables or Mediterranean herbs that will appreciate the warmer and sheltered growing position.”