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Plant Spotlight - July
A beautiful, small to medium size deciduous tree, slow-growing to 15-30' tall and 15'20' wide. Individual white blooms with a yellow/orange center mid-June through August. Stewartia trees are typically multi-stem and low branching, but can be single stem, with an overall pyramidal or oval shape. There is more to this tree than just pretty flowers – Stewartia are also known for their very showy fall color, ranging from yellow to red, sometimes even purple! As the tree matures, the bark exfoliates into a camouflage pattern of brown/orange, green, and gray. Stewartia does best in a sunny site with some protection from afternoon sun, in moist but well-drained soil. An excellent specimen tree, be sure to plant your Stewartia where it can be viewed all year long!
Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Bloomstruck’
A true show-stopper! ‘Bloomstruck’ hydrangea comes from the ‘Endless Summer’ series of hydrangeas, with some great improvements over the original. Blooms are more saturated shades of blue and purple, and the foliage is darker green and glossier. Perhaps the nicest feature of ‘Bloomstruck’ is its extremely strong, red-purple stems, which means this hydrangea holds up better in the heat! Shrubs will get between 3-5' tall and wide, and bloom on old and new wood.
Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'
Plentiful 9" long white flowers atop dark green foliage on a compact growing form, 'Ruby Slippers' Oakleaf Hydrangea is a beautiful addition to your summer garden. But the real show starts in fall! As the flowers age, they turn from white, to pink, to dark pink/red. The effect is increased when the foliage turns a brilliant burgundy color. Another great attribute of this shrub, and Oakleaf Hydrangea in general, is that they are not bothered by the deer, unlike many other hydrangea. Shrubs will get between 3-4' tall and 4-5' wide, and grow best in partial sun and in soils rich in organic matter.
With many varieties, colors, and sizes, Coreopsis (tickseed) is a great perennial to add to your sunny garden for reliable summer color! Ranging in size from 12" - 3' tall, and with flowers coming in shades of yellow, orange, red, white, and pink, Coreopsis does best in full sun and dry to medium moisture soils. Some varieties, like the popular 'Zagreb', readily reseed and spread on their own. Other popular varieties include 'Moonbeam', 'Creme Brulee', 'Little Bang Starlight', 'Early Sunrise', 'Jethro Tull', and 'Tequila Sunrise'. Coreopsis is attractive to bees and butterflies, but remains untouched by the deer!
Grown mostly as a foliage plant, hosta bring color and texture to any shade garden. There are thousands of cultivars, ranging in size from the tiny 'Blue Mouse Ears' (blue leaves, 6-8" tall and 8-12" wide), to the gigantic 'Kimodo Dragon' (green leaves, 30" tall and up to 7' wide). Leaf colors and textures include solid green, solid blue, solid yellow, almost pure white, and nearly every variegation combination imaginable! And while these are mostly grown as a foliage plant, the flowers of some varieties are a special treat. Hosta 'Fragrant Bouquet' has (as the name suggests), delightfully fragrant flowers. Hosta 'Golden Tiara' has lovely purple flowers, much darker in color than the usual pale purple of most hosta varieties. Beware of a few pest problems with hosta - slugs are often an issue, and the big juicy leaves are like candy to the deer, so keep in a mind that spraying or fencing will be necessary.
To-do list for the month of July
Plant Summer Annuals
Annuals are a great way to have long-lasting color through the heat of the summer. Unlike perennial, which typically have a specific blooming “season”, or period of a few weeks when they are at their best, annuals will reward you with plentiful blooms throughout the entire summer. They are great for bridging the flowering gaps between perennials. There are thousands of varieties to choose from – short Lantana or Petunias for the front of a bed, or taller Salvia or Verbena bonariensis for the back of a bed. Don’t forget about container plantings! Add a container of annuals to an empty corner of your deck or patio, or put up some hanging baskets on your front porch for an instant pop of color!
Weeds thrive in the hot and humid conditions of summer. They will begin to pop up in exposed soil, and sometimes even through the mulch of your garden beds. Weeds steal precious water and nutrients from your plants, so make sure you stay on top of weeding during this crucial time! Try not to let any of the weeds go to seed to decrease their spread.
Even if you have a sprinkler or irrigation system, keep your eyes open for signs of water stress – wilting, curling leaves, brown or crispy leaf edges, etc. Be sure to give your plants (especially new installations) an extra drink when needed.
Be vigilant about deadheading your summer annuals and you'll be rewarded with new blooms throughout the season. And don’t forget your perennial gardens! Keep your perennials looking neater and blooming longer by removing spent flowers and shearing back tired looking foliage. Perennials that respond well to deadheading include Achillea (yarrow), Agastache, Campanula, Coreopsis, some Delphinum, Dianthus, Echinacea, Gaillardia, Helianthus, some Hemerocallis (daylily), Leucanthemum (Shasta daisy), Liatris, Lobelia, Nepeta, Phlox, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Scabiosa, and Veronica.
Staking is a great way to keep your garden looking neat, and your blooms upright and protected. Whether you’re using individual stakes for your Delphinium blooms, a stake-and-twine system for your Anemone, or large bamboo stakes for a tall Dahlia, be sure to take care during the staking process. Try to use thicker, slightly more flexible materials for staking, like Velcro or wide ribbon, as opposed to thin twine or twist-ties that can cut into and damage stems.