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Catching Up With Summer

wateringRain has been variable over the last few weeks, with rain often passing either to the north or south of us. As a result, my neighborhood in the Rockville Bethesda area is actually getting pretty dry. With a typical summer heat wave in progress, that means that you must water the plants you planted this spring.

Remember that newly-planted plants have a relatively small root system; most of it is still confined to the original root ball that the plant had when you put it in the ground. So when you water, direct the water to the base of the plant and water thoroughly. Then let it go for a couple of days and water again. If it was wilting, it should spring back up. The “couple of days” is a guide; check every day and water as necessary.

Because we have had a lot of rain up till now, and we had warm temperatures in April, plants are really lush. Best hostas ever. But they will show heat stress now. Some of the leaves may yellow and fall from your trees, or some older leaves may fall from your perennials. This is normal as the plant achieves a new equilibrium with the heat and moisture.

Another thing to be thinking about is deer. As the fawns are getting older, I am seeing a lot more deer moving about my neighborhood, and that means they are looking for new food sources, like those lush hostas I mentioned. (Or maybe it’s just that I am home more now as I sample the fruits of retirement. ) I sprayed deer repellent Tuesday morning; we’ll see how well it works. It’s likely to work better as a deterrent before they sample a particular planting, and I think I got an early enough start.

As with any spray, follow label instructions carefully. Speaking generally, you are most likely to cause foliage burn when applying pesticide sprays to foliage in conditions when it’s hot (over 80) and humid. This is particularly true with oil-based sprays. The product label will tell you when you shouldn’t spray and what plants may be sensitive to what you are using.

Larry Hurley, Retired Behnke’s Horticulturist

Larry Hurley, perennials specialist for Behnke Nurseries (now retired), started with Behnke’s in1984. Larry enjoys travel, food and photography. He and his wife Carolyn have visited Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Brazil, South Korea and much of Europe. Their home is on a shady lot where a lot of perennials have met their Maker over the years.

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