One of the more labour intensive but vital jobs is hoeing your borders and removing weeds in your patios/drives/non planted areas. It can easily be an all year-round job, but as the weather becomes more favourable weeds will thrive. Patios and solid drives can be manually cleaned with stiff brushes and edges can be tidied up using blades and hoes. Even after thorough cleaning, Algae and moss can persevere and a treatment may be needed to remove any remnants and stains.
Weeds growing in borders and pots/containers are tricky to target with weed killer without damaging ornamental/edible plants in the same plot, and so sometimes it falls to us to remove these pests by hand. Hoeing your borders and plots frequently will help disrupt existing weeds and stop new seedling from taking grip. The aim of the game is to remove as much of the roots with the weed as possible to avoid the plant returning, although this is easier said that done!
(especially when woody and root heavy weeds are the problem)
If you do need to use a pesticide, aim to use a direct application of a systematic weed killer to the foliage as directed (systematic weed killers will travel through the plant via contact) Remember to take caution when using any weed killers and to read the instructions carefully!
As a general rule spring and early summer flowering deciduous shrubs can be pruned once they have finished flowering and the flowers begin to fade (Doesn’t apply to fruiting trees/shrubs). Prune your shrubs to maintain shape and vigour. Aim to trim back any dead wood, and prune away to open up the centre of the plant. On some mature specimens you can trim back severely (e.g. Kerria – down to a 1/3).
Some spring flowering shrubs to consider include
Plant out cannas & dahlias once danger of frost has gone.
Cannas are a tropical plant species and as such don’t like our British winters. Fear not! We can still get the most of these plants if you take care and treat them as a summer bedding and then storing them over winter. Cannas and dahlias that have been started off in a greenhouse can now slowly hardened off, and placed outside. These early started plants will be a bit further on than ones planted straight outside. To harden these plants off you can place the pots outside during the day and back under cover overnight for two weeks to adjust to the temperatures.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to start off some cannas or dahlias in a greenhouse then you can now plant the rhizomes directly outside. the best time to do this is late may/early June, as long as the weather permits. Dahlias and cannas need different planting depths, as where dalhias prefer depths of around 10cm (4inch), cannas prefer shallow planting, with enough to cover the rhizome. With both of the plants ensure they are kept well-watered but not water logged!.
Plant summer bedding
You can get your borders, containers and hanging baskets planted up now with colourful bedding plants. Pansies, violas, primroses, petunias…the list goes on. Use the plug plants to fill spaces and add vibrant colour. When making up containers and baskets make sure to use a good quality compost with moisture retention for those hot sunny days we hopefully will be having.
Don’t neglect your lawn as the summer weather intensifies!
Longer days usually mean hotter, sunnier days with less rainfall (no guarantees on that part…). Make sure to keep up your fertilising regime for lawns and keep an eye on if watering is needed. You should be using a fertiliser targeted for summer growth which will be high in nitrogen (essential for healthy green growth.). As mentioned in our previous month guide, it is imperative that you keep up not only your mowing, but also weeding, as patches can become unruly quickly this time of year.
Open vents & doors to increase ventilation
The theme of this month if not already clear is preparing for high temperatures. Our greenhouses and cloches are a lifeline to us during colder weather and help us extend our scope and duration of the season, but now they need our attention. Maintain ventilation where possible by opening doors and/or windows during the day.
(screening to cover openings may be needed to stop unwelcome guests.)
we should hopefully be clear of frosts and the colder extremes of weather, but if there is suspicion of rough weather approaching then close your ventilation at night. Damping the floors on hot days will help increase humidity for those plants that don’t appreciate dry heat, although use caution, as high humidity can lead to other problems. Research the parameters of care your plant require to limit any dangers.
Keep on top of blanketweed.
One of the biggest nuisances to pond keepers…the dreaded blanketweed. It’ll grow on your plants, it’ll grow on your pump, in fact, it’ll grow on anything! The best way to treat blanketweed if you have a pump and filter is to use treatment. Blanketweed treatment vary and may work via different mechanisms so it is important to check which will work best for your pond
Pond pumps and filters need to be maintained to be kept working efficiently. With blanketweed and other waste sources in your water being at a high this time of year, it is imperative they are taken out and cleaned. Cleaning the outside of a pump will help but a thorough clean of the pump, impeller and connections is an absolute must (your guarantee may even be void if your pump isn’t kept clean!)
Which pond food for when?
Most pond fish (with the exception of sturgeons and a few others) depend on water temperature to determine their metabolism. In simple terms this mean that the ability to digest certain foods in fish such as goldfish and koi will be down to the water temperature of their environment. In hotter temperatures, growth will be a higher priority and a higher protein based diet will be needed to facilitate their higher metabolism. Growth foods and foods with higher protein content & colour enhancing ingredients should ideally be fed once water temperatures have risen above 18 degrees Celsius.
Feed your fruit and veg.
Tomatoes can be feed a high potassium feed to encourage flower production (and therefore fruit). tomorite is always a popular choice for this as it is easy to use. Any fruiting crops you may be growing will also benefit from this feed, whether it be beans, peas, peppers, courgettes…etc.
Tidy and harvest your herbs.
Some of the quicker growing herbs may need to be kept in check this time of year. Mint is a particular culprit! Harvest your quick growing herbs by cutting odd stems out and pruning down existing stems by a third. Some of the more ornamental herbs like chives may be in flower. These flowers are quite unique and make great decorative pieces and are edible! (always research if your plants are edible!)
Basil and coriander can be moved outside now that the weather has become more favourable. Cuttings can be easily taken from both of these herbs, or you can carry on setting seeds to have a continual crop for use.
Give your plants some air!
During warmer days you can move some houseplants outside such as citrus, olives and ficus. Ensure to bring them back in at night to prevent damage by cooler weather. No matter the time of year, its always a good idea to keep glossy leaves clean and free of dust, which could stop the plant from getting adequate light. A damp cloth will work, but restrain from using cleaning chemicals unless specialised for plants such as baby bio leaf wipes.
To repot or not to pot?
Some houseplants that have gone dormant over winter will now be in full growth and as such we can inspect to see if they need replanting. When replanting houseplants, avoid potting out into pots too big, as they can be detrimental to plants that like tight roots, and cause others to push into root growth which in turn neglects leaf and flower production. Research your houseplants to determine which compost/soil mix is best and take your time to remove any decaying matter, knock old soil loose and replant in fresh soil.