There’s a painting by Frederick Lord Leighton called ‘Flaming June’ and it perfectly sums up the month we’ve just had – a baking, boiling, hot and humid month with not a drop of rain in sight – at least here in the South of England. So looking ahead to the month of July, there’s a few jobs that might need to take priority in the garden, and the first is…
Water, water, water…
If possible, use water saved in water butts, or grey water from household chores. Water in the evening so that the heat of the sun doesn’t evaporate it so quickly and water at the roots, rather than on the leaves. Water as sparingly as you can.
Don’t forget to water houseplants on hot, sunny windowsills too, and move some into shadier places if they’re getting too baked.
Especially keep an eye on newly planted trees and shrubs and water them regularly until they are established.
Look out for…
Clematis wilt. In this hot, muggy weather conditions are perfect for the fungal spores to attack your lovely clematis plants. If affected leaves and stems will show signs of browning, drying and die-back. Cut all affected stems back to ground level, as the fungus does not affect the roots and the plants should re-grow.
Powdery mildew on roses and honeysuckle. Remove any affected leaves once they fall in the autumn, which reduces the amount of fungus in the soil. Water the plant well, as this helps it grow strongly and fight off future infections.
Vine weevils and lily beetle. Lily beetles are bright red and fairly easy to spot so remove those you find by hand. Vine weevils are harder to spot and it’s the grubs that cause the most damage to plant roots, particularly those in pots. There are a range of methods for controlling them according to preference and you can see the RHS pages for more info.
As the weather has been so very hot this year, you may want to consider topping up your borders with mulch. Mulching thickly (3 inches/ 5 cm) will help any remaining moisture to stay in the soil, protect plant roots from being baked, keep down any persistant weeds, and store and trap water that does fall on the soil.
Cut back delphiniums and geraniums after the first flush of flowers, to encourage new growth and also to prevent them from getting too leggy.
Prune weigela and philadelphus after they’ve flowered, and cut any long, flowering stems or runners that you see appearing on bamboos.
Tie in climbers and rambling roses.
Take semi-ripe cuttings from choisya, hydrangea and philadephus.
In the very dry weather you may not need to mow your lawn so often, and certainly set the blades higher so as not to stress the grass with a very short cut. Dry patches will appear in hot weather but green growth should return once the autumn arrives.
Clear ponds of any plant debris as this will clog the water and encourage the growth of blanket weeds and algae. Keep the water levels topped up as water is lost quickly through evaporation in hot weather.
Damp down the greenhouse daily in hot weather to cool the air and prevent plants from drying out.
Check underneath pots and trays regularly for slugs, who will be hiding there to avoid the sun!
Pot on peppers as they grow to encourage vigorous growth, and pinch out tomato side shoots. Train cucumber stems upwards onto canes to save space.
Harvest garlic when the tops start to yellow.
Pick, dry and freeze herbs for using later in the year.
Feed citrus plants with citrus fertiliser throughout the summer and harvest peaches, apricots and nectarines as they ripen.
Treat scab on apples.
Harvest blackcurrents and prune fruited stems afterwards.
Keep your hat to hand and find your favourite spot in the garden to sit back and enjoy it all.