To-Do List: Pacific Northwest

R. L. Rhodes
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June brings lush, healthy growth from every plant in the garden. Support this natural flush of growth by using a few targeted fertilizers to help your garden plants stay healthy and bloom well. This is also an ideal time to remove spent flowers from roses and to check for rose pests.

  • Fertilize roses with bone meal and alfalfa. Roses benefit greatly from an extra dose of calcium at this time of year, because calcium strengthens cell walls and helps protect new growth from aphids. Bone meal is a slow-release form of calcium that will support roses all summer long. Alfalfa is another helpful fertilizer for roses. Alfalfa contains a natural growth hormone that helps roses create healthy new stems and shoots. However, certain hardier species of roses that naturally require less fertilization for bloom, such as the Knock-out Rose family, will benefit from a slow-release fertilizer designed for its species.
  • Apply cottonseed meal and peat moss to acid-loving plants. Cottonseed meal helps acid-loving plants benefit from the nutrients already present in the soil. The addition of peat moss to your soil will increase the pH level, making the growing conditions easier for acid-loving plants. However, you may need to combine peat moss with aluminum sulphate for ideal soil acidity levels. Rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias most commonly come to mind when we think of acid-loving plants. But blueberries, ornamental grasses, ferns and conifers also prefer acidic soil, and will benefit from cottonseed meal at this time of year. Acid-loving plants, such as rhodendrons and azaleas, will bloom stronger with the help of a fertilizer with stabilized Nitrogen.
  • Treat tomatoes with calcium to prevent blossom end rot. Tomatoes can be susceptible to blossom end rot, which is when the tomato fruit develops a mushy spot on the blossom end. While regular watering and composted soil are the best defenses against blossom end rot, applications of calcium can also help prevent this distressing disease. Soft rock phosphate, also known as colloidal phosphate, is a form of calcium that dissolves easily for good absorption by tomato plants.
  • Remove spent flowers from roses. When dead flowers are left on a rose, the plant spends precious energy creating fruit, also known as rose hips. By pruning off the finished flowers, or deadheading, you encourage the rose to keep on blooming for a long season of color. To deadhead a rose, simply cut the bloom off just above a leaf with five leaflets. It’s best to choose an outward-facing leaf, because the rose will sprout a new stem from the little node hidden at the base of the leaf. As the new stems grow up and away from the center of the rose bush, more sunlight and fresh air can reach the foliage.
  • Check roses for pests. In June, roses often develop pests and diseases like aphids, caterpillars, and black spot. If you catch pests early, you can keep your roses looking healthy all summer. Start by checking the tips of new stems for the tiny, soft-bodied aphids. Next, examine leaves for damage, and turn over any chewed leaves to look for caterpillars. Last, look at the leaf surfaces to see whether your roses have black spots on them. Safe organic controls include horticultural soap for aphids, B.t. or Bacillus thuringiensis for caterpillars, and Bacillus subtilis spray for black spot and other fungi.

June’s garden care helps bring a long season of healthy blooms and fruit to your Pacific Northwest garden. Be sure to stop by The Home Depot for professional help with all your gardening needs.

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