The Green Thumb Corner

By Victoria Klaas

June 2018



Greetings, Green Thumbers!

June is typically mild with cloudy mornings and moderately warm temperatures but can end with triple digit temperatures.

Perennials are in bloom. One of my favorites is Alstromeria, a spotted and striped lily-like plant with blossoms available in all colors but blue. They are tough and if planted in shade, will bloom all summer long returning year after year. Marigolds, Dwarf Sunflowers, Daylilies, Vinca, Impatiens, Campanula, Verbena, Gaillardia and Rudbeckia are also available.

This is a great time to add drought resistant plants like succulents and Cacti. Because of strict California water policies, plant breeders have been working with plants such as Agaves (“Century Plants”). Lovely dwarf varieties (2 feet tall or less) include the striped Agave in green, yellow, grey and red, or Agave Americana which is urn shaped and variegated brightly with gold leaves edged with dark green.

Another colorful and easy succulent plant is Aeonium “Kiwi,” with beautiful rosettes in a kaleidoscope of colors. It is safe to add palms, tree ferns, bananas, Lantana, Bougainvillea, Mandevilla, and Plumeria. Know that not all plants offered in garden centers are right for our climate. If you are unsure about a plant, do a little Internet research to check it out.

Melons, eggplant, peppers, and other fruiting vegetables can also be planted. Pick zucchini and other summer squash when still small and tender. Larger fruits can become woody and seedy. Clip runners off strawberries to encourage larger fruit.

Continue to cut and deadhead roses and pinch back Chrysanthemums to encourage a fuller, bushier plant. Divide and repot root bound plants. Divide bearded Irises if necessary. Remove spent flowers from Daylilies. Trim back overgrown herbs but avoid pruning back into hard wood with Rosemary, Thyme and Lavender. They will not produce new growth from hard wood.

Keeping Gardenias in bloom may be a challenge. They should be kept moist and fed monthly with Camellia and Azalea Food. They require additional iron periodically to prevent yellowing leaves and leaf and bud drop.
Gardenias planted near houses may not bloom as they require colder night temperatures. Plant them under the open sky away from block walls and houses.

Garden catalogs and websites are advertising special bee houses for potter or Carpenter bees. Many gardeners in California have taken up backyard beekeeping as a hobby. I don’t recommend this if you are allergic to bees but, it does illustrate the importance of pollinating insects to our food supply.

Until next month, happy gardening!

 “A flower's appeal is in its contradictions — so delicate in form yet strong in fragrance; so small in size yet big in beauty; so short in life yet long on effect.”
 ~ Terri Guill