July takes us into the depth of winter – a time when we are encouraged to stay inside where it is warm, avoiding the cold westerly winds.
However, there are important tasks to be completed during this month.
Gardeners need to be aware that the cold winds can dry out surface rooted plants, whilst frost prone areas need to protect susceptible plants as well as hosing down the garden before the morning sun hits the plants, particularly newly planted trees and shrubs.
Leave rose pruning in frost prone areas until August or when the late frosts are over.
Coastal wise roses could be pruned this month, but preferably close to the end of July.
My standard ‘Ellinas’ look dreadful, but I am resisting the temptation to prune now.
When you do prune, spray with lime sulphur, which cleans up scale and fungal disease and keeps the roses free for a few months.
Feed each rose with a full bucketful of poultry manure (that is ground grown roses), then follow three weeks later with rose food.
Standard roses should be pruned into the size of a soccer ball, following the same instructions for standard roses. A golden rule is never to prune climbing roses (if they need it) until they have finished blooming in summer.
Okay, July is pruning time, but don’t be over zealous – hold back the chainsaw and look what really needs to be cut back.
Remember what is cut off can’t be glued back on. Care should be taken not to prune spring flowering trees, deciduous trees and shrubs that are being grown for their spring blossom.
Duranta, fuschia, grapes, westringia, plumbago, viburnum, photinias and hydrangea all enjoy a winter prune.
I advocate feeding to encourage new growth when pruning.
Pruning hydrangea can be perplexing, but if you didn’t do a summer prune, simply don’t cut back the stems that have not flowered.
Hydrangea should be pruned back to two stems where there are two eyes beginning to shoot and remember that flower colour can be affected by what you apply when fertilising.
Acidity and alkalinity can play a vital role in shades of colour.
Poultry manure will increase alkalinity, changing blooms to shades of pink and mauve, whereas cow manure will encourage deeper colours.
To maintain the present colour, fertilise with a product with a neutral pH, such as Bounceback.
Deciduous trees and shrubs are available in nurseries during July – after planting remember to water regularly to encourage the sap to rise.
Although we seem to be getting regular rain, take care that the winter winds don’t dry out gardens and potted plants – apply peat moss around the roots of shallow roots of azaleas and camellias.