June Gardening By the Month

Law of Gardening I:
When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.


(The Yellow Lollipop plant is as much fun as its name.)

Celosia-feather-21st WEEK:

Watch for insect pests. Spray for specific pests as needed ONLY. Avoid general “wipe-out” sprays. Please remember, when you kill beneficial insects, you inherit their job!. – me

Inspect Crepe Myrtles weekly for APHIDS or mildew.

Spider mites can be controlled with Pyrethrin mixed with insecticidal soap, Bonide Systemic Insecticide, or several periodic strong blasts of water. Spray both top and bottom leaf surfaces. The first signs of damage from spider mites will be tiny tan mottling on the leaves and other discoloration. Eventually, the leaves will turn entirely tan, then brown and dead.  You may even see silk webbing in severe cases where the pests are out of control. Spider mites go through a generation of life in 4 days, with the females laying up to 2,000 eggs in that period. They multiple rapidly in the heat and drought. To know if spider mites are plaguing your garden, thump a suspected twig over a sheet of white paper. If you see tiny paprika-colored specks that move, you’ve discovered spider mites!- AJW

Pull up, and discard squash vines if squash vine borers have bored into the stems.

If birds are attacking your tomatoes, try harvesting them when they turn from green to white. They will be nearly as good as vine ripened in a day or two.

Remove spent flower spikes from all Salvias.

Feed roses and other hungry individuals (according to their needs and water availability).

Oaks, magnolias and other trees will drop their leaves if we experience drought and hot weather conditions. No treatment is necessary, but a deep watering on the drip line once a month will help minimize the stress.

Control fungal problems in veggies and other susceptible plants with Daconil or copper fungicides, if we have had an abundance of wet weather.

Blue salvias, zinnias, vinca and esperanza are good summer blooming plants that the deer do not eat.

Consider Dwarf Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana) as a ground cover for the shade. The flowers are violet-blue, pink  and white with mounding, dark-green foliage. – CF

Plant iris, spider lilies, gloriosa lilies and caladiums.

Divide and replant Mexican mint marigold (Tagetes lucida) and chrysanthemums so you will have more flowers in fall.

Prune actively growing shrubs, such as elaeagnus and pyracantha, frequently.

Sun-loving flowers such as portulaca (moss rose) and purslane still can be planted. – EO

Mulch around trees and shrubs to save water and protect plants roots from the drying sun. Replenish as needed to conserve moisture and reduce weed growth.

Consider raising mower height before cutting your turfgrass. Taller grass will shade the soil and protect the root system.

There’s still time to plant okra, but germinating your own seed is probably necessary. This vegetable loves the heat and will do well planted even into June. – TAE

Plant summer annuals for color. Good candidates for sunny areas are moss rose, firebush, copper plant, celosia and lantana.

Remove flower buds from caladiums, coleus, mums and santolina to keep the plants growing vigorously.

As temperatures rise, tomatoes are susceptible to blossom-end rot. It occurs when soils dry out. Use mulch and water regularly to reduce the problem, keeping mulch away from the stem of the plant. Tomatoes may not bloom or set fruit with excessive heat. Once temperatures exceed 85 degrees, don’t expect new fruit. – CF

Fertilize container plants and hanging baskets regularly with water-soluble fertilizer, like 30-10-10 Miracid. – LR


crape myrtle12nd WEEK:

It is time to compost squash, brussels sprouts and other vegetable plants that are at the end of their productive life.

If you had a good season with flowering sweet pea, inspect and pull dried seed pods and save for sharing and fall sowing.

Plant Southern peas (black eye, purple hull, crowder, etc.) for a summer harvest and soil improvement.

Be careful near brush piles, weedy or overgrown areas and junk accumulations; the hybrid European/Africanized bees might lurk there. Check in the early morning when temperatures are cooler. If in doubt, call for professional service, or control with Permethrin for very small or manageable populations.

Water young (less than two years old) trees and shrubs deeply every two weeks during summer (if there hasn’t been at least 1″ rain per week).

Bermuda grass or St. Augustine growing in flower beds can be controlled with contact herbicides such as Fertilome Over The Top II grass killer, Poast Fusilade or Ornamec 170 .

Bougainvillea don’t like to be pampered. Let them get rootbound and let them dry out to 1 inch below the soil line between waterings. Fertilize every 4 weeks with hibiscus food or similar fertilizer for bountiful blooms.

Check for insects and diseases and destroy badly infested plants. SPIDER MITES can be especially troublesome if it’s hot and dry.

Soak coleus, caladiums and geraniums to a depth of 8″ to help them cope with summer heat.

Maintain mulches at a depth of 2 to 6 inches, depending on the material used. – EO

Rotate houseplants so each side receives adequate light for even growth and balanced shape.

Pinching back the tips of vigorously growing foliage plants will stimulate new growth and make plants fuller.

If weather conditions were favorable,chiggers can be found in abundance. To protect yourself from chigger bites, spray pants, legs and shoes with insect repellants containing DEET. – TAE

Plant crape myrtles while they are in bloom so you can be sure of the color you want.

Look for small white LEAF HOPPERS, which form cottony masses on plants. Use insecticidal soap with Pyrethrin or  Captain Jacks Spinosad for control. – LR


background-21745_6403rd WEEK:

Apply the first of two treatments (Bayer Advanced Grub Killer or organic treatment, such as Nematodes, for the pests) for GRUBWORM control in lawns and beds.

The white, frothy material that’s showing up on stems and foliage could be WOOLLY APHIDS, but it probably is the eggs and protective covering of LEAFHOPPERS. It is not necessary to treat the eggs.

SPIDER MITES may be hitting tomatoes marigolds, beans, violets, junipers and verbenas (these are primary hosts but, there may be others); depending on if we have had hot, dry weather. Spray with pyrethrin and an insecticidal soap solution (follow label instructions) if there is still hope for the plant. In most cases, the crop is almost completely destroyed and no spray is required. Harvest the fruit and remove the plants. (*Keep in mind that companion planting can help enhance kitchen flavorings while at the same time discouraging pesky insect population. Plant garlic to deter red spider mites. – AS)

Fall WEBWORMS are making their homes in pecan and mulberry trees. Open the webs with a cane pole so wasps can feed on the worms. Another option is to spray Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) on the foliage where they are feeding or to let them run their course without treatment.

Solarize your vegetable garden for the next three to four weeks.

Start tomato and pepper seeds now so you can be ready for fall planting.

If container plants such as geraniums are declining despite regular watering, move them to a less sunny spot. Be careful to gradually decrease the amount of light they receive.

For dry, sunny beds now is the time to plant vinca for summer bloom. Water in the mornings or use drip irrigation (sprinkling over the top causes fungal die back). Mulch beds.

If your trees are raining sticky sap onto the patio, driveway and your car, the trees are filled with black APHIDS. They’re small, pear-shaped insects that create sticky messes on all surfaces beneath pecans, oaks, crape myrtles and others. You’ll see the varnish-like residue on leaves initially. Spray at that point to stop their quick population surges. Left unchecked, a black sooty mold will grow in the sticky honeydew. The white, frothy material deposited along stems and leaves may be caused by SPITTLEBUGS. Spittlebugs suck the juices from plants but do not usually require spraying.

Spread baits for long-term control of FIRE ANTS.

Tour your property to look for new BEE colonies. Leave them be if they aren’t aggressive but note where they are so you can avoid them (many are not aggressive and are very important for the production processes of a wide variety of plants). – CF

Fertilize flowerbeds lightly every 4 to 6 weeks.

To encourage more flowers on annuals and perennials, remove faded flowers before plants set seed (a light application of fertilizer will help also, be sure to water in). – EO

Pull or hoe weeds before they mature and produce seed.

Pinch back chrysanthemums, Mexican mint marigold, autumn asters and other late summer and fall-blooming annuals to increase their flowering capability.

Plant heat-loving shade plants such as coleus, caladiums and begonias.

Watch for BAGWORM cocoons on junipers, arborvitae and other conifers. Remove by hand or use Bacillus thuringiensis, Captain Jack’s Spinosad, or an approved insecticide.

June is the month to select daylily varieties as they peak bloom.

Dig and divide crowded spring bulbs. Once bulbs have matured and the foliage has turned brown, it is time to spade them up and thin out the stand. Crowded bulbs produce fewer and smaller blooms. They usually need thinning every 3 to 4 years. Replant immediately in prepared soil. – LR


mulchsized4th week:

Check lawn condition, repair/replace. Apply a chelated micronutrient or iron product mixed with a spreader sticker to  chlorotic St. Augustine grass (and other plants) showing signs of chlorosis – yellow leaves with green veins.

Remove faded flowers from zinnias and roses for a longer bloom season. Get the same effect on verbena and lantana by skimming the plants with a string mower every four weeks.

Place firebush in a container to attract hummingbirds to the patio. The plant needs full sun. If you have a shady patio, use firespike instead, or choose from a selection of other shade plants in our Shade Handout.

CHINCH BUGS. If your full sun St. Augustine turf looks dry and yellowed, especially near walkways, curbs and concrete driveways, suspect these small black insects with white diamonds on their wings. Look in the interface grass; that is, between dead grass and healthy turf. If you see the insects there, treat with Imidacloprid, or another similar insecticide. Chinch bugs will be active only in hot, sunny locations.

GRASSHOPPERS are difficult to control. Consider Permethrin or one of the new baits, like Nolo (sold at farm and ranch and tractor supply stores) if the insects attack your garden.

Collect seeds from the rain lilies that bloom after a thunderstorm. Plant them in flats or containers to transplant into full sun areas.

Mulch all beds two to four inches deep to keep soil cool, roots healthier, conserve moisture and minimize weed germination. Pine bark adds nutrients back into the soil as it breaks down and decomposes. – CF

Periodically prune re-blooming salvias, such as Autumn sage (Salvia greggii) and mealy blue sage varieties (Salvia farinacea), for continued blooms.

Fall-blooming perennials such as Mexican mint marigold, chrysanthemums and Mexican bush sage should be pruned during summer to keep them compact and reduce the need for staking. – EO

Remove faded flowers from plants before they set seed to encourage plant growth and produce more flowers. A “light” application of fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks also will help.

Select day lily varieties this month as the plants reach their peak bloom.

Finish pruning spring-flowering shrubs, vines and climbing roses. – LR

Many thanks to my contributors:
AJW – A.J. “Pop” Warner (see above)
CF – Calvin Finch, Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, Texas Agricultural Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News)
EO – Edna Ortiz, Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, Texas Agricultural Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News)
TAE – Texas Agricultural Extension Service, Bexar County (courtesy S.A. Express-News)
LR – Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, (visit their website @ bexar-tx.tamu.edu), Texas Cooperative Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News)
THL – Tracy Hobson Lehmann, Garden editor, S.A. Express-News
HG – John Howard Garrett, aka the “Dirt Doctor”, (visit his web site @ www.dirtdoctor.com)
AJW – A.J. “Pop” Warner, from his book “A Year In The Rose Garden”
NS – Neil Sperry, Texas horticulturalist, Publisher “Neil Sperry’s GARDENS”, visit his web site @ www.neilsperry.com
AS – Amanda Spalten with “Schulz Nursery”