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What to do in July in the Flower Garden - (Courtesy of ‘The Sunday Gardener’)

Dead heading

To keep summer flowering plants and bedding at its best and to prolong flowering, it is essential to dead head. The purpose of dead heading is to prolong the flowering time of the plant. The plant flowers and sets seed, and having done this so it can reproduce, plants can be reluctant to  flower again, or continuously. Dead heading, cutting off the spent flower head, forces the plant back into the cycle to produce flower and seeds again. Some plants, such as these ice plants (Mesembryanthemum) need a lot of attention and constant dead heading. With some plants so much needs dead heading it can be easier to take the sheers to the top growth and very often a second growth and flush will follow, as with Achillea mollis and hardy geraniums (not Pelargoniums)

Cut back early perennials

Some of the early flowering perennials can begin to look a bit tired with their foliage becoming tatty or browning. If these plants are cut back now, many will produce fresh green growth to liven up the border and even a second flush. Good candidates for this treatment are Oriental poppies, alchemilla , hardy geraniums, Nepeta. Cut back close to the ground, feed and wait a couple of weeks. If you don't like the sight of too much earth, do it just as you go on holiday.

Wisteria

July is the time to prune Wisteria for the second time in the year, and its easy. If you grow Wisteria, it is essential to prune now otherwise you jeopardise next year's flowers. To maintain a flowering Wisteria it is essential it is pruned twice a year in July and February, which makes it time consuming to grow as it can get very large and ladders are needed to get to the upper reaches of the plant for pruning. Prune back the whippy summer growth to contain the plant. Wisteria is vigorous and needs harsh treatment. Cut the whippy tendrils which have grown over summer back to about 15 cm (6") long. If the main stems are growing out of their allotted space, cut back now to where you want the plant to be. This is a good time to feed Wisteria and Tomato feed is suitable.

Delphiniums, foxgloves and Verbascums

When the flower head has gone over and is fading, cut back by removing the flower head only, as in just the flower spike, not the whole stem and where there are side shoots surround the flower head , these may then give a second flush.


Sweet Peas

Sweet peas are lovely but time consuming. This time of year they are at their peak and need regular (as in every few days) attention. This involves regular picking or dead heading to keep the plant flowering. Also remover the thin tendrils otherwise the plant will gradually twist and turn and became tangled which looks a mess and prevents the flowers having those lovely straight stems which set them off so beautifully when displayed in a vase.

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