June in your garden
Here is the June checklist to remind you what to plant and do in your garden during June.
1. Kitchen Gardening
- First on the June checklist is to prepare planting beds for permanent crops such as asparagus, rhubarb, chives and globe artichokes by adding lots of compost and well-rotted kraal manure. Add a dressing of balanced organic fertiliser before planting.
- Prepare large holes (at least 1m x 1m) for new fruit trees and vines. Back-fill the hole first with the topsoil mixed with a generous helping of compost. Add about 100g of general fertiliser and a huge handful of bonemeal. Fill the holes up and water well to settle. You can now go shopping for fruit trees and vines to plant.
2. Bedding Bestie
Primulas or primroses (Primula malacoides) are synonymous with winter and spring gardens. These tough annuals grow quickly and easily in spots with semi-shade, and are ideal for mass planting among spring-flowering bulbs, for edging, or in containers. Dainty stems with white, rose, pink, lavender or purple flowers appear well above woolly, bright green leaves. They grow to about 20 – 25cm. Remember this for your June checklist.
3. Intensely Cheerful
It’s prime time for pretty cyclamens. The silver-marbled foliage perfectly sets off the bright and cheerful blooms resembling dainty butterfly wings, and are available in a wide range of colours. Cyclamens prefer bright, indirect light and are fussy about water – allow the plants to dry out between watering, but not to the wilting stage. Water gently from the bottom, rather than dousing the whole plant, to prevent rot. Clean up old leaves and spent blooms.
4. Lovely Lillies
Lily bulbs are now readily available just in time for your June checklist. Plant them in compost-rich soil, to which a handful of bonemeal has been added. As they prefer good drainage, it’s always a good idea to add some coarse river sand to the bottom of the planting hole. If moles are a problem, plant the lilium bulbs into plastic or wire baskets that are then sunk into the soil. If you normally receive severe frost, plant your lilium bulbs into large pots and keep them protected on a warm patio. You will later enjoy the beauty of their exotic flowers up close and personal without any worries of frost damage.
5. Plant and Forget
Add a permanent ‘wow’ factor to your garden with the following grasses, which are highly recommended for a low-maintenance effect:
Tanika grass (Lomandra longifolia) This tough and drought-tolerant ornamental grass is evergreen with soft, fine foliage in a fresh shade of green, and small yellow flowers that appear in spring. It is frost resistant, likes sandy soil, and is the perfect companion plant to shade and cool others in a meadow garden. This fantastic grass reaches a height of 60cm and a width of about 65cm, and is perfect for mass planting in full sun or light shade.
Little rev (Dianella revoluta) These compact, tuft-forming, grass-like plants have blue-grey foliage and produce masses of purple flowers in summer. They prefer full sun, little water and very good drainage. They are perfect for mass planting in modern landscapes, having a mature height and spread of only 30 – 40cm x 30 – 40cm.
6. Lawn Business
- Keep watering over-seeded lawns and cool-season grass, which regularly grows throughout winter.
- Winter grass, a tufty, bright green grass, can become a problem on winter lawns but dies off naturally when the weather warms up again. If it becomes too much to handle, kill off with a selective herbicide. Keep in mind that small birds often feed and survive winter on the seed it produces.
- Keep off the lawn if it is frosted, as walking on it can encourage the growth of moss and algae. Water the lawn every 2 – 3 weeks and mow as needed.
7. Do Some Shopping
Fertiliser: go shopping for fertiliser to feed your winter veggies. There are formulations like 7:1:3 for leafy vegetables and 8:1:5 to encourage flowers and fruit.
Saving: Water-retention products have become very important to gardeners (if not critical!) . The latest products include lightweight expanded clay aggregates that can either be used as a moisture retentive mulch or as a drainage layer in pots or beds. Other products are in the form of granules or powder that can be worked into the soil.
Super soils: The latest range of commercial potting soils contain peat and aqua plus (a water saver) and are highly specialised growth mediums for citruses, bonsais, herbs, pink and white hydrangeas, blue hydrangeas, fynbos, orchids, cactuses and succulents and roses, as well as acidic and universal blends. Make sure that you buy the right formulation for your special container plants.
8. June Prune
- You can start pruning deciduous shrubs and trees for neatness and shape at the end of the month. Don’t prune those that will flower in spring, such as Cape may (Spiraea), mock orange, ornamental prunus and bushveld bride (Dombeya rotundifolia).
- Regularly pinch back winter annuals like pansies, violas and snapdragons to promote bushy growth and more flowers.
- Conifers grow actively in winter and can be lightly sheared to encourage denser foliage.
- Cut back ornamental veld-like grasses such as pennisetum hybrids, muhly grass, Aristida juncea and zebra grasses. Prune vines and plum and apricot trees at the end of June and spray with lime sulphur. Do not use last year’s supply as it will have lost its potency. Buy fresh stock and use only on plants that have become completely dormant.
9. Basket Ideas
If our autumn hanging baskets inspired you last month and you are raring to plant up some more, try the following choices for your June checklist:
- Saucy succulent baskets – mix different varieties together.
- Geranium baskets – go for the bold colours of the trailing varieties called Pelargonium peltatum.
- Salad baskets – fill up some baskets with loose-leaved salad varieties and add some colourful violas in between, as they are edible too.
- Jasmine baskets – plant some Jasminum polyanthemum (Chinese jasmine) into large baskets in preparation for a very aromatic and romantic late winter and early spring.
10. Difficult Spot to Fill
One plant that ticks all the boxes is Correa alba, commonly called the white correa. Correa is drought and salt-spray tolerant, frost hardy, and is a low maintenance shrub that can be pruned to shape whenever you want to. Cream-coloured, bell-shaped flowers can occur throughout the year with a main flowering period in autumn. This fast-growing, evergreen shrub has leathery grey-green leaves that gives it a ‘snowy’ winter look. It has a dense, rounded habit and naturally grows to a height of about 1.5m. Use it as a hedging plant or just to fill an empty spot somewhere in a bed. It will grow happily in full sun or partial shade and is not fussy about the soil it is planted in, although it does prefer well-drained soil that has been enriched with compost. It needs an average amount of water until established, and then you can relax with the tap.
11. Quick Yard Stuff
It’s not too late to dig up and divide thick clumps of ornamental mondo grasses. Split them into small clumps for replanting in freshly composted soil, and remember to pot the excess up into old plant pots to give away as gifts to other gardening friends as part of your June checklist.
- You can still take hardwood cuttings from deciduous plants.
- Plant glorious helleborus in your shade garden.
- Cut back overgrown herbs and add fresh compost around their bases.
- Take cuttings of coleus and keep them protected until rooted.
- Divide overgrown day lilies and replant in composted soil.
- Move houseplants like ferns away from cold windows and cut down on watering. Remember that heaters dry out the indoor atmosphere and so the plants should be misted often with tepid water to increase humidity around them.
- Keep clivias fairly dry now, as this will stimulate flower spikes.
- If there has been a bout of cold, dry wind, give your garden a deep drink early in the morning to allow the plants to dry off during the day. Winter-flowering plants, especially camellias and emerging bulbs, must be watered regularly for a long-lasting flower display.
- In subtropical climes you can feed paw-paw trees. Water them well before and afterwards. Lemon trees should also be given a feed (one should feed garden citrus trees four times a year, in September, January, April and in June or July, and those in pots more regularly with a foliar fertiliser). Correct yellowing leaves with a micro-element mixture.
- If your gravel areas are smothered in weeds and the gravel keeps disappearing into the soil, it might be a good idea to rake the stones onto a heap away from the area. Then lay down a layer of weed matting – a strong membrane sold by the roll that allows water and air through, while smothering germinating weed seed. This material also prevents gravel chips from sinking into the soil.