It’s time for the middle of summer garden ‘tune up’

By: 
Deb Hill
Managing Editor
A woman is visible through a frame of branches watering potted saplings.

Amanda Kohl waters Alpine Floral Greenhouse and Nursery trees Wednesday afternoon. Deep watering is important in the summer for these plants.

Photo by Jenny Gessaman

It’s hot and the days are long. There’s heavy rain, hail and possible harsh wind to deal with. Somehow the garden isn’t looking so good. What to do?

The solution, according to local nursery experts, could be as easy as providing more fertilizer.

“We fertilize bedding plants when we pot them,” said Teresa Stokken, owner at Alpine Floral. “They leave us in good condition. But all that watering we do as the temperatures warm up leaches the nutrients right out. If your plants are looking a little droopy, it’s probably time to fertilize.”

Stokken recommends an all purpose fertilizer.

“We use Osmocote here at the nursery,” she said. “It’s time release, so you get the right amount.”

Stokken says the same fertilizer can be used to help vegetable plants push through the hot months and improve garden production.

“Sometimes gardeners initially used a potting soil that has fertilizer in it, and they think they are covered,” Stokken said. “But remember, watering will leach that soil, too.”

Scott Kirsch, owner of Krings Greenhouse and Nursery, also cites fertilizing as necessary this time of year.

“People have put a lot of water out now, and the soil can use some nutrients,” he said. “If you see yellowing leaves, it’s a sign your garden might need fertilizing.”

Not all plants, Kirsch said, should be fertilized now, however.

“It’s too late to fertilize trees,” he said. “You don’t want to push new growth this time of year, which might not harden off in time, leaving the tree susceptible to frost damage.”

Stokken said even with the heat of summer, it’s still a good time to plant trees and shrubs.

“Just make sure the soil is well prepared,” she said. “Trees and shrubs need good, deep watering to handle the heat.”

Stokken said hail has hit some neighborhoods hard, but the damage has been spotty. Still, for those whose gardens took a beating, she has some hopeful advice.

“I guess you could look at the hail as Mother Nature’s deadheading,” she said. “If you pinch most plants back and remove the worst damage, they should come back.”

For summer lawn care, Stokken recommends setting the mower deck up a little higher, so grass isn’t stressed by being cut too short. She also suggests watering in the morning or evening, rather than the heat of the day.

However, not all problems seen in gardens this time of year are weather-related.

“Gardeners should get ready for those young bucks to start rubbing their antlers on things pretty soon,” Kirsch said. “Usually the first week or two of August is when they start, and they can do a lot of damage to trees and shrubs.

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