Now’s the time to prune pines and vines, prevent pests and buy June-blooming plants to keep your garden healthy and beautiful
June’s warm temperatures bring fresh new growth and an abundance of flowers. Vines are growing and need training to stay neatly trellised, while pines may need candle pruning to keep them from overgrowing their space. Unfortunately, pests and fungus also enjoy the Northwest’s combination of moisture and sunshine, so it’s important to prevent pests now by taking a few simple steps. Last, we seem inexorably drawn to the plant nursery at this time of year, so it’s a great time to evaluate which areas of the garden might benefit from some June-blooming plants, including some Northwest natives.
Prevent blossom-end rot on tomato plants. In the rainy Pacific Northwest, blossom-end rot is a common issue that causes partly grown tomatoes to develop a dark brown spot on the bottom of the fruit. The spot enlarges and eventually causes the entire tomato to rot and develop a leathery skin.
The problem is caused by calcium deficiency. It’s most common in areas where the growing season starts out wet and then dries out over the summer.
Prevent this issue by watering deeply on a regular schedule. Soaker hoses are best because sprinklers that water tomato foliage can cause another disease, called late blight.
You can also treat the plants with calcium to prevent or manage blossom-end rot. Eggshells and bone meal are natural sources that can be incorporated into the soil around each tomato plant. There are also commercially available sprays that contain calcium chloride or calcium carbonate to solve this issue. The plant can soak up the nutrient through its foliage for an instant boost.
Keep wisteria and other vines in check. Spring’s warm temperatures and damp soil can mean lush, almost rampant growth in the garden. Vines get out of control quickly in June, so it’s important to check them every two weeks and train or tie any new shoots to your trellis or structure.
Of course, if new shoots are growing in the wrong direction and can’t be tied in gracefully, feel free to snip them off right at the stem where they start. Vines can look wild if not carefully tended.
Feed roses for a long season of bloom. While roses are a staple of the classical garden, many rose varieties, especially hybrid teas, need regular care to perform well.
June is the time to add bone meal and alfalfa to roses. Bone meal provides calcium, which helps roses develop strong cell walls to protect emerging growth from aphids and other insects. Alfalfa is a natural source of growth hormones, which stimulates healthy new canes to grow.Stay on top of rose pests and disease. If you notice a black spot, pick off affected leaves right away so it doesn’t spread. Aphids can be managed in their early stages with organic insecticidal soap or a quick blast of water, while caterpillars, if noticed quickly, can be picked off and relocated to a wild area of the garden. Remember, caterpillars do become moths and butterflies, which are valuable pollinators for our vegetable gardens.
If you want to avoid any pest problems yet still enjoy roses in your garden, modern landscape roses (as seen above) such as Knockout, Drift, Oso Easy and Flower Carpet roses create a long-lasting flower display in the garden, yet need little care and fussing to do well. They’re even well suited to a totally no-spray garden.
Candle prune pines to keep them right-sized for the garden. Pines can be challenging to keep small in the garden, because they don’t respond well to regenerative pruning to bare wood, as many other species do. So once a pine has grown enough to fill in a space, gardeners use a technique called candle pruning to keep pines petite and neatly shaped.
The new shoots on pines are called candles because they emerge in a bright white bundle on the end of each tuft of foliage. The bundles, which look like small white candles, open up in time to reveal the green pine needles we are used to seeing.Before they unfurl, however, there’s a monthlong window of time when the candles can be cut in half or even removed to reduce or eliminate the plant’s growth for the year.
Simply use your pruners to cut each emerging candle by one-third, one-half or entirely off, depending on whether you’d like it to grow a little more slowly, a lot more slowly, or not grow at all that year. You can even plan the future shape of your pines by removing some candles, cutting others by half and leaving some to grow. This technique allows you to choose which branches get taller and which stay the same size.
Buy June-blooming plants now, so you can select the exact colors and varieties you prefer. Visiting plants in the nursery is one of the easiest ways of seeing the subtle differences between each plant. That’s why it’s a good idea to buy plants at the nursery every month, so you can evaluate which areas of your garden need more interest in each season and coordinate the perfect show.
Newly in bloom are lilac (Syringa), ninebark (Physocarpus), Japanese snowbell (Styrax), Hebe, and a wide variety of perennial flowers.This is also an ideal time to check out many Northwest natives that are newly in bloom, such as salal (Gaultheria shallon),
ocean spray (Holodiscus discolor),
native spirea (Spirea douglasii)
June’s sunshine makes such a nice change from the usual Northwest rain that this is an ideal time to enjoy the garden — whether working in it or just relaxing.