Garden Calendar: June

Hot and dry … a challenge for our gardens.

Tip of the Month

Euphorbias are known to be the titans of texture, and are both elegant and tough. Heat and drought tolerance are their best attributes. This highly diverse group, often called “spurge,” comprises around five thousand species. They range from hardy, leafy perennials and sculptural succulents to tropical variations. Their blooms are tiny and distinctly un-flowery looking, arranged in distinctive patterns that are surrounded by colorful leaves called “bracts,” such as those in poinsettias. Most euphorbias have a milky sap that runs throughout the plant that is poisonous and a skin irritant. However, this toxic element has an added benefit — it acts as a deterrent, especially to hungry javelinas. Wear gloves when handling euphorbias or quickly wash the sap from your skin. To propagate, take cuttings from the parent plant. Rinse the sap with water to stop the flow. Let it dry several days to allow callus to form before planting.

Planting

Sow seeds of cantaloupe, corn, green beans, summer squash, native melons, Armenian cucumber and okra.

Plant warm-season color annuals such as cosmos, hollyhock, marigold, salvia, sunflower, zinnia, gaillardia, gomphrena, coreopsis, vinca and gazania.

Watering

Water turf efficiently by soaking 8-10 inches deep to moisten the Bermuda grass root zone. Bedding plants will need water more often this month.

Transplanting

Transplant herbs such as basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme.

Plant desert-adapted plants this month. The roots readily expand in the heated soil.

Harvesting

The first fig crop starts ripening this month. Fruit matures only on the tree, so keep birds away by covering with netting.

Fertilizing

Feed cacti and succulents during the warm months. Apply a fertilizer formulated specifically for cacti and succulents every month.

Apply fertilizer twice monthly to vegetables. Do not add to dry soil.

Cut back on fertilizing roses to encourage plants to slow down for the summer.

Preparing

Apply pre-emergent to avoid weeds when the monsoons arrive.

Pruning

Prune back mature bougainvillea, lantana and hibiscus to stimulate blooms.

Cut back spring bloomers such as brittle bush, penstemon and salvia. Prune young trees early in the summer to slow growth and correct structure.

Protecting

Cover vegetables with 50-70 percent shade cloth to reduce temperatures, prevent sunscald and increase blossom set for better fruit production.

Cover citrus trunks to prevent sunburn damage.

Drape plants with netting or shade cloth to protect from birds and insects.

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