There’s plenty of time to get plants established in the garden. (Mark Mulligan / Herald file)

July is time to take stock of your garden

July is an interesting month in the Northwest. Often it is a time for a second start in the garden, to replace things that didn’t take hold or just plain pooped out due to the cold, wet conditions in May and June. No need to worry, there is still plenty of time to get plants established. Here’s what’s on my radar screen.

Planting: This is always at the top of my monthly list. We can plant year ‘round in the northwest. I am always looking for a new, exciting plant to shoehorn into my garden and living next to the “candy store” just makes it that much easier for me. Don’t hesitate to drop by the garden center every couple of weeks to see what’s new. Growers have lots of new crops ready and are shipping them out weekly.

Feeding: If we want our plants to flourish and look fabulous, we need to feed them in July. This is especially true for annuals, perennials and vegetables. Not so much for shrubs and trees, assuming they are established and were fed back in the spring. When it comes to annuals, especially if they are in containers, it is hard to beat a soluble fertilizer like Sea Grow (we call it “crack” for plants here at the nursery). For plants in the ground I still prefer the organics. They have microbes and humic acid added to them, both of which improve the overall long term health of the soil.

Pruning: Keep those pruners sharp and oiled. Remember “a stitch in time saves nine”. “Light” pruning (opposed to “heavy” pruning) is easier on the plants and keeps me out of hot water with my wife. There is always something to prune in the garden.

Staking: I like to think that if I plant enough plants close together they will hold each other up, but it doesn’t always work that way. All it takes is one windy and wet day to knock everything flat on the ground. We sell all sorts of contraptions to help hold up plants, but they don’t work if you leave them in the garden shed. Get them installed before the calamity strikes, because you know it will sooner or later.

Bugs, slugs and other thugs: I think it is going to be a “buggy” summer. Keep the slug bait out but treat other insect problems on an as-needed basis. For mildew on shrubs and trees, the best strategy is to prune out diseased branches and fertilize. For roses, perennials, annuals and veggies it is best to be proactive and apply a fungicide as a preventative.

Watering: It is shaping up to be another hot summer. Find my past lecture on proper watering on our website, In addition to watering deeply and infrequently, spreading mulch will help immensely in conserving moisture and keeping the soil cool.

Pollinators: Attracting bees and other pollinators into our gardens has become a major focus in the industry this year. We can all work together to help these valuable creatures by using pesticides sparingly and wisely. We can also incorporate into our gardens a wide diversity of plants that bloom when pollinators are active. This brings me back to the concept of visiting the garden center every couple of weeks, not only see what is interesting but to also see what the bees are finding interesting. It’s a win-win situation.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville;


Sunnyside Nursery will host a free class at 10 a.m. July 9 on how to grow hydrangeas;

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