Pruning Suckers and Other June Gardening Tips
By Charlie Nardozzi, Senior Horticulturist National Gardening Association, and Dr.
Leonard Perry, Extension Professor University of Vermont
Pruning suckers from roses and tomatoes, pruning old flowers from early
perennials, and keeping the strawberry bed clean are some of the
gardening tips for this month.
Prune Those Suckers
On grafted roses, any growth that originates below the graft union -- called
suckers -- will not be what you bought the rose for. The foliage may look
different and the flowers will be inferior, often a different color, to flowers on
shoots growing above the graft. Clip off any sucker growth because it saps
energy from the plant. These shoots are usually quite vigorous.
Many early bloomers, such as nepeta, veronica, delphiniums, and some
perennial salvias such as 'May Night' will rebloom if you cut off the faded
flowers. For bushy plants like nepeta and veronica and salvia, shearing with
hedge trimmers is the easiest method.
Prune Rhododendrons After Bloom
The best time to prune rhododendrons to improve flowering next year is
right after they finish blooming. The best tool to use is your hand. The dried
flower clusters will snap off when you bend them, just be careful not to break
off the tiny buds just below the old flowers which are the future blooms for
Get Rid of Beetles
Bright red lily leaf beetles are easy to spot on lily leaves and, if you only
have a few, you can pinch them between your fingers or knock them into a
can of soapy water. The larvae usually feed on the undersides of the leaves,
and they have a slug-like body covered with their black excrement (ugh).
You might want to wear gloves when squishing them. Neem spray is also
effective against the larvae, and repeated sprays can kill the adults.
If you have a strawberry bed, harvest frequently and remove any berries that
show signs of gray mold or rot diseases. These berries not only are inedible,
they quickly spread the diseases to other ripening fruits. Pick and remove
the rotten berries and mulch under plants with straw to reduce contact with
the ground where the disease spores reside.
Take Care of Your Veggies
Blossom end rot shows up as dark, sunken spots on the blossom end of
tomatoes, peppers, and squash. It's caused by a calcium imbalance in the
plant -- the soil may have adequate calcium, but the plant isn't able to take
up enough to supply the rapidly developing fruit. To minimize the problem,
keep soil evenly moist, apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture, don't
over fertilize (avoid high-nitrogen fertilizer), and avoid damaging plant roots
"Indeterminate" or vining tomato plants produce many suckers -- new shoots
that start where a branch connects with the main trunk. Removing suckers
will decrease the number of fruits produced, but the remaining tomatoes will
be larger and will ripen sooner.
Aspirin water has been found to promote healthy growth and enable plants
to stand up to insects and diseases. Dissolve 3 aspirins in 4 gallons of water
and spray plants. One time is all that's needed.
Iron phosphate granules, sprinkled around plants, are an effective, nontoxic
pesticide for slugs and snails. (Brand names include Escar-Go and Sluggo.)
Coffee grounds and liquid coffee are also effective -- the higher the caffeine,