To-Do List: Southern Florida

R. L. Rhodes
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The heat of summer is here. By June, annual flowers, vegetables and perennials have been growing, flowering and fruiting profusely, activities which all use a lot of energy. The rainy season brings increased risk of plant disease and washes vital nutrients from the soil. There’s much to do in the garden during June to keep plants at peak performance, even as they struggle in high heat and humidity. Here’s what to do in your garden this month.

  • Fertilize annual flowers. If you’ve kept your annual flowers deadheaded (that is, you’ve been removing the dead and faded blossoms), your plants have been blooming continuously for months. Constant blooming requires constant food. In our sandy soils, this can become a problem, especially during rainy months. Fertilize annual flowers in the garden and in containers with a liquid fertilizer and your plants will reward you will larger, longer-lasting blooms. Feed plants every two to three weeks.
  • Patch brown or dead spots in the lawn. The warm summer weather combined with the rainy season makes June an ideal time to patch problem spots in the lawn. Grass plugs, sod pieces and grass seed all will establish quickly at this time of the year. Always plant sod on the day you purchase it so that it doesn’t have a chance to dry out before it establishes roots. Keep new sod or seed watered until the new lawn is established.
  • Check for insect pests on perennials, vegetables and annual flowers. The best way to control insects is to identify them early, before they can reproduce and cause more damage than plants can withstand. Always identify the pests before selecting a treatment to eliminate them.
  • Prune shrubs to shape and reduce size. The summer is a good time to prune trees and shrubs, because you can see the fully leafed-out shape of the plant. Remove old, dead or diseased growth to keep your shrubs healthy. Cut branches back to an outward-facing bud to shape the shrub. Roses also benefit from deadheading. Always cut roses back to an outward-facing bud.
  • Plant palm trees. Now is an ideal time to plant palm trees so that they can establish healthy root systems before the cool fall weather arrives.
  • Groom vegetables and perennials–removing dead or diseased growth. Prevent disease and viruses from spreading by removing dead flowers and mildewed vines. Do not compost plant parts with insect or disease problems. Throw these away.
  • Fertilize orchids. If you’ve placed your orchids out in the trees or let them hang from a patio or balcony for the summer, don’t forget to feed them. Orchids benefit from a diluted liquid fertilizer once a month while they are actively growing.

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