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  • July garden tips & tasks

    Make sure the trees and shrubs you planted in spring get plenty of water. The Nashville Tree Foundation advises that trees planted in the last three years should receive 10 gallons per week per inch of tree caliper. Water your trees slowly with a bucket, soaker hose, slow drip hose or watering bag.

    As tomato plants continue to grow and produce, keep the soil around the plants consistently moist. Inconsistent watering is the reason tomatoes develop cracks.

    Summer annuals and perennials such as daisies, glads, zinnias, sunflowers, cosmos and others make beautiful summer bouquets. Cut them early in the day when they’re at their freshest and put them in water in a vase right away. Change the water daily to keep them fresh longer.

    Pick summer squash and zucchini while they are still small and tender for best flavor.

    Watch for tobacco hornworms on tomato plants and Japanese beetles on just about everything else. Pluck the worms off the tomato plants and dispose of them. (If you see one with its back covered with white eggs, leave it; it is being parasitized by a tiny wasp.) Knock Japanese beetles off plants into a bucket of soapy water.

    Cut back the stems of mums once more, before they begin to form flowers. This allows them to delay flowering until fall.

    Lawn growth (and lawn mowing) may slow down as the heat increases. Continue to mow as needed, but don’t cut the grass too short. Provide about an inch of water if it doesn’t rain.

    Don’t forget about those hanging baskets and container gardens in the heat. If it doesn’t rain, you may need to water them daily during the hottest part of summer.

    Overgrown beds of bearded irises should be divided every three to five years. July is a good time for this task.

    You can plant a second crop of summer vegetables that grow quickly. Cucumber, bush beans and zucchini can usually produce a crop by fall if seeds are planted early in July.

    Coleus’ beauty is in the foliage, so when it begins to bloom, pinch off the flower spikes to encourage the plant to grow fuller and bushier.

    Take a daily walk around the garden to enjoy the scenery, but also to spot problems with weeds or bugs before they get out of hand.

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Good luck with ‘bamboo’

QUESTION: I have a “lucky bamboo” plant in a pot of water with pebbles that looked great for awhile, but now it has grown big shoots out of each of the stalks. Can I cut off these shoots and re-pot them?

The first thing you need to know about lucky bamboo that it’s not bamboo at all, but a plant in the genus Dracaena (specifically, D. Sanderiana). Its close kin includes two other popular houseplants: corn plant andMadagascar dragon tree.

Growers of this easy-care plant suggest not cutting it from the top, but you can remove the extra shoots from the stalk with a sharp knife. Cut it flush with the stalk if you don’t want another shoot to grow in the same place. If you do want a shoot to re-emerge, cut it about 1/8-inch out from the stalk. You can try to root the cut-off shoots in water: Dip the ends in rooting hormone powder and let them dry overnight, then place the shoots in water. Eventually, new roots may grow. You can grow lucky bamboo in water or in soil.

These are relatively low-maintenance plants, but you do need to pay attention to the water they’re in, and add water as it evaporates so the roots don’t dry out. Every week or so, pour out the old water and add fresh, preferably filtered water, or tap water that you have allowed to sit out overnight.

Keep lucky bamboo out of direct light and away from extreme heat or cold, and feed it every couple of months with a very dilute solution of plant food (about 1/10 the recommended strength, plant care specialists suggest).

 

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