After the summer soltice the crazy pace of growth starts to slow in the garden, and while much of it can look great, some plants can start to look a bit floppy and tired – especially after all the hot weather. Here’s our top tips for what to do in July to keep the garden looking ‘fresh as a daisy’.

Cut back perennials that have got too leggy…

It can be diffcult to bring yourself to cut back perennials like delphiniums, lupins and hardy geraniums when they are still showing sprays of flowers, but you’ll be rewarded later in the season with fresh, strong, growth, rather than the floppy, tired, collapsing plants that you’ll have if you leave them.

Cut back hanging baskets too, to keep them producing new flowers. Feed your baskets after ‘the chop’ to give them an extra boost.

Dead head roses, perennials and bedding to prolong their flowering. If you do let them go to seed, be sure to collect it in paper bags before it self seeds all over the garden – unless you’re happy for them to do so.

Cuttings…

You can take softwood cuttings now for growing on through the winter months in a sheltered spot indoors.

Keep the veg plot going…

If you plant second potatoes now in pots or bags you’ll have home-grown potatoes for Christmas, and as they’ll be portable in bags you can move them indoors when the frosts arrive.

Pot on peppers and pinch out the growing tips of aubergines once there are 4 or 5 fruits on the plant to encourage the growth into each fruit.

Pinch out tomato side shoots each week and trim off leaves below the lowest fruits to encourage air flow and reduce the risk of disease.

Pick runner beans frequently to prevent them becoming hard or stringy.

Prevents pests…

Make sure you net your soft fruits, including cherries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries to prevent birds from eating the whole lot! You can also prune plums, cherries, apricots and peach trees now, to reduce the risk of silverleaf infection.

Check cabbages for cabbage white caterpillers and remove, also pinch out the tops of broad beans affected by blackfly.

Check apples for scab and treat accordingly. Scab appears as brown or blemished spots on your apples and is caused by a fungal infection. See the RHS website for how to treat scab.

Look out for clematis wilt. This can show up as discoloured brown, patches througout the leaves, or can be a wilting of the whole plant. In the larger flowered hybrids it can be caused by a fungus, while in the more fungus resistant smaller flowered varieties it may caused by unsuitable conditions. Clematis prefer moist, deep, cool soils in semi-shaded spots. See the RHS website for full details.

In general…

Try to water the garden frequntly in hot weather and keep it tidy as things start to seed or fade – this will make it easier to tidy during the autumn.

Start to think about any bulbs or perennials that you might like to order for autumn planting.

Keep ponds clear, aerated and topped up.

Water house plants.

Enjoy this month – it’s the height of summer colour.