ALWAYS READ THE LABEL – Taking a fresh look at the label is important whenever using garden pesticides – whether chemical or organic. Labels will tell you what diseases, insects or weeds should be controlled and where the product may be used. It will also tell you the mixing or application rate and safety precautions that should be taken when handling.

• Japanese beetles have arrived. Handpick or use an appropriate insecticide. DO NOT use pheromone traps as they attract many more beetles than you would otherwise have.

• Irises and daylilies can be divided even while in bloom. This is useful if you need to need to keep flower colors separated. Remove any remaining flowers; cut leaves halfway back and trim off any diseased material. If irises are diseased, cut away to sound ‘flesh’, rinse in 10% Clorox solution and dry in the sun. Replant the divisions and keep modestly moist. Our friends at Presby Memorial Iris Gardens have a great video on how to divide bearded irises:

• Hanging baskets and other plants in containers can usually go a few days between watering. If you are planning a short vacation, water thoroughly before you leave. During hot weather, it helps to move plants to a shadier location.

• Seeds of hardy annuals that will bloom in the fall should be started now. They include alyssum, calendula, and ornamental cabbage and kale. Biennials that can be planted for transplanting later include foxglove, money plant and sweet William.

• Some quick-growing/flowering annuals that can be planted now from seed include cosmos, gomphrena, Mexican sunflowers, dwarf sunflowers, and zinnia.

• Deadhead spent flowers to encourage continued blooming on annuals and prolonging the blooming period on certain perennials such as bee balm, black-eyed Susan, daylilies, and Monkshood (Aconitum) purple coneflower, perennial salvia, spotted phlox, Stokes’s aster and yarrow.

• Support any leaning dahlias, gladiolus and lilies to prevent them from toppling over.

• Try to accomplish pruning of shrubs early in the month.

• Container gardens do require some attention. Fertilize every few weeks with liquid fertilizer and cut back plants as needed to keep the garden in balance.

• Don’t forget to water newly planted trees and shrubs – weekly if necessary.

• Mulch to retain moisture (and lower your water bill.)

• Remove spent daffodil leaves and possibly plant tender perennials or annuals on top. The renewed naturalized bulbs are 6 to 8 inches below the soil surface. Exception: if you have naturalized tulips, keep the soil dry to avoid rotting.

• Tropical’s (canna, banana, ginger) typically love moisture – be generous!

• Tomatoes need to be supported off the ground to prevent fruit rot and slug damage. Most gardeners find it best to use cages for determinate (bush) types and stakes or trellises for indeterminate (vine) type.

• Avoid blossom-end-rot (BER) in tomatoes, peppers, squash, and watermelons by maintaining uniform soil moisture. Mulch can help. BER is a sign of calcium deficiency. Watering regularly helps the plants maintain the proper levels of calcium. If you have issues with BER, it’s helpful to add calcitic lime when you plant. A soil test can help you determine if supplementation is needed.

• Once cucumbers, squash and green beans begin to fruit, check them daily. Fruit matures quickly and is best harvested while young and tender.

• Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants will benefit from a July side-dressing of 5-10-5 fertilizer.

• Late plantings of bush beans, sweet corn, summer squash and cucumbers should occur before mid-July.

• Remember to keep a record of what is planted where and what varieties you grew. You will want this information next year for garden rotation and to remember what vegetable varieties you liked – or did not like.

• Do not fertilize cool-season (fescue and bluegrass) lawns until September.

• Sod can be installed during hot weather, as long as you provide sufficient water to keep the soil moist. Before laying the sod, moisten the soil to prevent the roots from coming in contact with excessively hot and dry soil.

• Regular rainy weather will produce good conditions for brown patch, a fungus disease. If brown patches begin to occur, do not irrigate and do not mow when grass is wet as you can spread disease problems.