Time to repot

It's time to cut back lavender flower spikes that are starting to lose their color.
It's time to cut back lavender flower spikes that are starting to lose their color. (istockphoto.com)
Posted: July 26, 2014

Repot water-stressed, container-grown plants. We're heading into what's usually the hottest part of the summer, so now is the time to repot any pot-bound plants that are drying out too quickly. You can tell if this is going on when leaves wilt frequently, roots creep out the drain holes, or the plant actually pushes up out of the container. You can reuse the same container as long as you first loosen the roots and trim one to two inches all around the root mass. Put an inch or two of fresh soil in the bottom of the container, set the plant on top of this layer, and use more soil to fill in around the sides of the root mass. If you'd rather not root-prune, then replant in a container at least three to four inches wider in diameter than the original.

Trim lavender and spiraea for a second flowering. Cut back all the flower spikes on lavender ( Lavandula angustifolia) that are beginning to lose color. Be careful to avoid cutting any emerging spikes that will develop more fully once the faded flowers are removed. If you take the time now to snip the spent flowers on Japanese spiraea ( Spiraea japonica), this shrub will produce more blooms, too. In past years, I found it a tedious and time-consuming task to prune the flower clusters at the end of each branch. However, I'll be saving time this year when I use the battery-powered garden shears I bought in the fall.

Extend the vegetable-gardening season. As you harvest vegetables, don't worry about the bare spots in the garden. Look at them as opportunities for more planting. There's just about enough time for one more bean harvest before frost in mid-October if you plant seeds now. You can also plant more cool-season crops like lettuce, Swiss chard, kale, cabbage, and cauliflower. Prepare each plot by first turning over the soil. For each square foot, add a heaping shovel of well-rotted leaves or kitchen scraps and work the organic matter about 12 inches into the existing soil.


Patricia Schrieber is director of education for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) ( www.phsonline.org), and co-owner of Valentine Gardens ( www.valentine-gardens.com).

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