June is when everything begins to heat up in the garden, from temperatures to color. To cool things down, plant cool colored annuals and perennials that bloom in the heat of summer: pale pink cosmos, blue bell flowers and Stokes asters, white roses and deep purple May Night salvia. Or just go with it and plant red hot pokers, coral beans, deep red zinnias, bright red monarda and hot orange marigolds. Then take a cool drink out to the garden bench and admire what you and nature have brought about.
• Heat loving annuals can be planted in succession every few weeks to keep the color coming all summer. Zinnias come in several sizes and almost any color you can think of. Petunias are great in full sun and humidity, as well. Annual salvias also love heat, but can take a little shade, as well.
• Try tall annuals in the back of the border or around the vegetable garden fence: sunflowers, cosmos and some of the taller old-fashioned zinnias will do this job nicely.
• Keep everything deadheaded to prolong the blooming season.
• Mulch to keep away weeds.
• Do you have any Red Hot Pokers in your flower garden? These hot tamales love the heat and are destinations for the eye everywhere you put them. They can take bright sun or dappled shade.
• If you have dry shade under evergreens, try autumn ferns and hellebores in combination. The hellebores will be done blooming by now, but their glossy dark leaves are a lovely contrast with the billowy foliage of the fern. Tuck some annual impatiens around them for spots of color.
• Mulch well around all perennials to conserve water and keep weeds away. Mulching now saves work later.
• Weed, weed, weed. Mulch, mulch, mulch. Scrape weeds out with a stirrup hoe when they are small and mulch between rows. That will keep you from sweating over big, deep-rooted weeds in July.
• Remember that any seeds planted in mid summer should be planted about twice as deep as you would plant in spring. Water seeds in well and keep watered until they sprout.
• Plant summer and winter squash near the end of the month. You’ll have waited out the borers, which are most active in June.
• Stake up or cage indeterminate tomatoes to keep the fruit and foliage off the ground. Pinch off lower branches of the tomato plants to let the plant put its energy into the fruit. Keep well mulched.
• Plant beans and corn in succession every two weeks through this month to keep harvesting until frost.
• Keep everything picked clean. Any cucumber, squash or tomato left on the vine sends a message to the plant that its job is done and it will stop producing.
• Water vegetables an inch a week if rain does not provide.
• Prune all spring flowering shrubs that need it before the end of the month to keep from cutting off flower buds for next year’s bloom.
• Container-grown trees and shrubs can be planted any time of the year, but they must be watered regularly through the dry summer months. Mulch all new plantings well to conserve water.
• Mow frequently. Get a mulching kit for your mower and let grass clippings lie where they fall to re-nourish the soil.
• Keep fescue lawns mowed high – four inches or so – to conserve water and let the grass shade the roots.
• If you have a problem with broad-leaf weeds in your lawn, apply selective weed-killer this month on a still day when rain isn’t expected for 24 hours. Make sure to read the label carefully about which weeds are targeted by the product and how much to apply.