Sarah Squire, highlighting the steps you can take to ensure your garden stays looking its best throughout the summer months…
Summer is here and it is time to really enjoy the garden with barbecues and parties or just a quiet moment in a garden chair. Give your bedding plants, containers and hanging baskets lots of TLC and they will reward you with an abundance of colour right through until the first frosts.
Bedding plants, containers, hanging baskets and any recently planted shrubs or cottage garden plants need regular watering during the summer. This is especially true if we have a long dry spell. Storing rainwater in a water butt or two is a really good idea especially if you grow ericaceous plants such as Azaleas or Rhododendrons. The best way to capture rainwater is to interrupt the flow of roof down-pipes. There are lots of water butts available. After watering cover the soil surface with a mulch such as chipped bark which will help retain moisture in the soil by reducing evaporation and also helps to suppress weeds.
Weeds can be really invasive and should be pulled out regularly or hoed. Alternatively a suitable weed-killer can be applied if you are that way inclined. The garden centre will be able to advise on the suitable product but will need to know whether the weeds are annual or perennial. The easiest way to assess this is to give them a pull and see how easily they come out. Generally those with long underground root systems or tap roots tend to be perennial. Similarly watch out for invasions of slugs, greenfly, whitefly or caterpillars and get rid of them by hand or with a pesticide.
I am a great fan of dead-heading which is pinching off dead flowers. This really does encourage the plant to produce more flowers in an attempt to set seed and reproduce.
Well fed plants are healthier, flower better and are more resistant to pests and diseases. A regular diet of Miracle Gro, Phostrogen or other plant food will work wonders.