June in the garden


June is the ideal month to simply enjoy your garden as most of the spring planting should have already been done but the hottest days yet to arrive. 

With so much in bloom, there should be plenty of colour now but if not you can head for your local garden centre for a quick remedy. Consider such June-flowering plants as Fushcias, Hydrangeas, Lantana, Jacaranda trees, Agapanthus and Mandevilla.

Fuchsias need regular watering, but don’t let the soil get soggy.  Feed often with fertiliser high in nitrogen.   Deadhead the seedpods.  All fuchsias need partial shade with white and pastel colours requiring a bit more shade than reds and purples.

Hydrangeas also like plenty of water, but make good container plants and are particularly good for north facing spots without too much sun.

Lantana is one of the easiest plants to grow.  It takes full sun, is drought-resistant, and is very useful in many spots, including bank cover.

Jacaranda trees will be in full bloom now.

Agapanthus is another easy plant and the white or blue blossoms have real impact when planted in a group.

Mandevilla, a climber, with bright pink trumpet flowers, does well on an east-facing wall.

Tropical Plants
Fertilise these plants during the summer.  You can continue to plant them out during June, but scorching days may burn their leaves if planted too far into summer.  Among the numerous plants to consider are bougainvillea, gardenia, hibiscus, palms, tree ferns and many flowering and fruit trees, such as avocado, citrus, banana and guava.  Keep them well watered until established.

These are drought resistant once established, free from most pests and diseases, and easy to grow, although tricky to get started.  Some are vines and some shrubs.  A larger plant will make a faster start than a smaller one.  Choose a spot in full sun where the root run is also in full sun.  Dig a hole twice as wide as the container but the same depth.  Loosen the soil at the bottom and work in 2 or 3 cups of bone meal and some slow-release fertiliser at the bottom.

The roots and crown of young plants are fragile, so handle carefully when removing from the container and keep the roots supported with your hands while lowering them into the hole.  Backfill with native soil and press down by hand.  The top of the root ball should be even with the surrounding ground.

Make a water basin and water deeply straight away.  Then water once a day for three days, three times a week for the next two weeks, and twice a week for the following month. Thereafter, water once a week for the first three years.  In heavy soil, water enough to keep the root ball damp but not soggy for the first month, then water deeply when the ground dries out.

Fertilise them once a month between April and August for the first three years.  After three years or so, you can stop fertilizing and watering in winter and reduce summer watering to every four to six weeks – perhaps even longer depending on variety and place.

Continue to prune, water and fertilise as during May.  You can still plant out roses.

Annuals and Perennials
It is rather late now for planting seeds.  The seeds themselves will sprout faster now, but the flowering season will be reduced.  Purchasing plants from a garden centre will be an easier solution for adding plants, unless you have a large area to cultivate.  Keep both annuals and perennials deadheaded and lightly cut back any that have finished blooming or grown floppy.  Fertilise those which will continue to bloom.

Fertilise citrus and avocado trees, fuchsias, begonias, bamboo, water lilies, corn, camellias, roses, tropical plants, marguerites, annuals and perennials in containers, cool-season lawns and some warm-season ones, strawberries, vegetable rows, and perennials.  Look for yellow leaves and green veins in citrus, gardenias, and others and treat with iron chelate.

Deciduous Fruit Trees
The so-called June drop is nature’s way of shedding an overload of fruit where a number of immature fruit are dropped.  If you thinned the fruit yourself in April or May, you will have enabled the remaining fruit to grow larger, but you may with to remove even more fruit than nature drops in order to achieve balance on the branches.  Water the trees well in June and July. 

For cool-season grasses reset the cutting height of lawn mowers so that the lawn can grow longer during the summer as this gives it more resistance to hot weather.  Do not cut off more than one-third of the lawn’s height at one time.  Keep the lawn well watered and from now until autumn feed lightly.

For warm-season grasses now is the time to start mowing it as short as possible.  Feed regularly during the growing season except for invasive types of grass, such as Kikuyu, unless there is stunted growth or wan colour.  Water deeply but as infrequently as possible.

Vegetables should be developing well now and you may already be able to pick beans and squash while still small, but wait for tomatoes until they are fully ripe.

As crops reach the midpoint of growth, side-dress the rows with fertiliser.  Most crops need additional nitrogen at some point during their growth except for beans which do not usually need more nitrogen unless they are suffering slow or stunted growth.  Corn needs more nitrogen and plenty of water when it starts to tassel out.  The best time to side-dress tomatoes is when they start to bloom.

Water regularly and deeply, and it is especially important not to let cucumbers or tomatoes dry out although overwatering can cause root and fruit rot.

It is not too late for some seeds, although results will be later than usual.  Corn, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, pumpkins, summer and winter squash, melons, beets, carrots, radishes, aubergines can all be planted.

Pest Control
Many pests are active in June, including spider mites, caterpillars, slugs, snails, whitefly and thrips. Keep a close eye on plants so that invaders don’t get too strong a hold and keep the garden tidy to deter insects. Be careful not to import pests; examine new plants carefully. 

Whiteflies are keen on tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, fuchsias, but happy on other plants as well.  They are difficult to evict as they multiply rapidly and they are crafty at developing pesticide resistance. Moreover, their development process has five stages, each of which reacts differently to pesticides, so repeated spraying with an appropriate chemical is required.

Thrips are very small and burrow into flower buds, so are difficult to spot.  There are chemical controls, albeit expensive.

Be careful on all counts when using chemical sprays, and ensure that any chemicals used on or near the vegetable garden are appropriate.


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