Monthly Archives: July 2014

Summer Gardening in Central Kansas: Advice From a Novice

Here we are -  already over the longest day of the year, the day that marks the beginning of Summer.  With respect to the weather in our part of Kansas we don’t have much to complain about, at least in comparison to Two years ago.

rosemoss flower

While the weather has been somewhat mild, we’ve still had a few of those scorching hot days that can stress out your plants, or worse. With the sometimes too wet, sometimes too dry weather, all of us with plants (or those of us who take care of plants) have had to hunker down and pay attention because the wild weather oscillations make “one size fits all” gardening all but impossible.


 

 

Here are some quick tips for gardening:

Use What Works:
Find plants that work in the areas that you are planting in.  This may seem obvious, but Photo of a clump of beard tongue.  sometimes its easy to buy a plant and not realize that its completely inappropriate for the environment in which you intend to plant it.  Even when you have zone, sun, and drainage requirements down, sometimes the soil PH or a lack of a wind block can turn a good flower bed plan into a dreary mess.

Sadly, sometimes you can do all of the right things and still have something fail in vivo.  You can, however, limit your frustration by contacting local gardening clubs, greenhouses, and even your city’s horticulture department for information.

Research
You’re reading this article,  so you may already be doing some online research.  Good on you!  It’s super easy to use a Google Image search to look for problems specific to your plants or problems with similar plants.

There numerous horticulture sites and databases that are just a Google search away.  Some contain advice, and some have user comments that add to or clarify the information in the database.  Use them, as always, knowing that the information you’re getting may not be accurate.

Observe:
Not just the plant itself, but the soil.  If the soil is already visibly moist, you don’t need to water it again.   Signs of overwatering and underwatering can be deceptively similar,  so it is wise to take into account soil drainage and retention when assessing any problems you may have.

It’s wise to use a small spade, scoop, or cultivator to check the ground under the very top layers of soil.  Just make sure, of course, that you’re not digging too close to the plant.

Inspect plants for signs of disease, such as malformed leaves, growths/bumps along the stalk, and discoloration.

Pay attention to how your plants behave after a rain, or on the hottest days.

Maintenance
Does your plant need pruning? Can it be dead-headed? What interventions can you use to keep your plants healthy in the summer?

While weeding is crucial to maintaining a healthy, aesthetically pleasing garden spot, it is also good to perform routine maintenance on your plants.  Some plants require “dead-heading”, or the removal of old blooms, in order to keep producing flowers.  The humble annual Coleus, for example, tends to have healthier-looking foliage when its flowering spikes are removed.

Beware that a lot of plant care should be cultivar-specific. Roses, for instance, vary wildly on tolerance for pruning and dead-heading.  As emphasized above – you should do your research (lest your efforts yield unforeseen results!).

Do Nothing
Know when to leave things alone.  Sometimes plants need to adapt to your garden, especially during drastic weather changes or right after planting.  Imprudent pruning can have you cutting off aesthetically displeasing leaves which can still be supplying a large amount of energy to the plant.  Sometimes plants just look bad for the hottest hours of the day, so no amount of water  around the roots will make them perk up.

The point is that you should know when to just leave things alone.  Sometimes doing more will leave you with less.


The above is a novice’s heuristic guide to maintaining a garden in unpredictable environs.  Do you have a favorite source of information or any general tips to add?  Please leave a comment!

 

hibiscus flower