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Gardeners Grow Together Week 25, June, 2021: Pruning Lilacs; Dividing Iris

Welcome to my special gardening page for those of you who like to garden yourselves! Each week, I will make suggestions as to what gardening tasks we need to do every week during the growing season. It will help keep you on track--as well as myself!

To keep things simple, I am using the year's weekly number, Week #1 through #52 (example: the week of January 1 is Week #1), instead of specific dates.

So, come on! Let's get our hands dirty!


Week 25:

This week, we need to Prune our Lilacs, Divide our Iris; and,

Sow Chinese Cabba and more Salad Greens

In the vegetable patch:

Sow Chinese Cabbage

Sow more Salad Greens

In the flower garden:

Pruning Lilacs for more flowers next year

Dividing Iris

In the Vegetable Patch:

Sow Chinese Cabbage

Plant Chinese Cabbages now and at regular intervals until August. This leafy vegetable is excellent for stir frying, making delicious meals fresh from the garden in minutes. They come in both green and red varieties.

Sow more Salad Greens:

Buttercrunch Lettuce

Keep sowing salad greens in small batches every two or three weeks. Look for more heat tolerant greens, such as "Buttercrunch". For best results, grow under a white row cover cloth to give them some shade and sun protection. There is no need to use hoops or other support for the cloth. Just lay it loosely over the seedlings and anchor at the edges. The plants will push it up as they grow.

In the Flower Garden:

Pruning Lilacs

Lilacs only bloom on the last year's growth, so now is the time to prune for flowers next year. There are several ways to prune a Lilac. One is to just snip off the old flower stalks and seed heads. Another way is to do a maintenance pruning by cutting the whole bush back by a third and removing any dead or old stems at the base. With either method, vigorous new growth should occur soon afterward, followed by more flowers next year!

If you have a bush that has been neglected and is full of dead wood, a rejuvenating prune by cutting it all the way back to the ground, may be the best choice. However, this drastic measure will delay blooming for a couple of years.

Dividing Bearded Iris

Who doesn't love the big, bold, gorgeous and intensely fragrant flowers of the Bearded Iris? They bloom between mid May and mid June. And now there are new varieties that re-bloom in the fall!

Now through to the Fourth of July is the time to divide Bearded Iris. It needs to be done every three or four years. It's easy to tell when they need to be divided. The plants grow out from the center and will form a ring in the middle, devoid of foliage and, usually, there will be a tangle of old rhizomes on the soil surface.

Bearded Iris are tough plants. You can dig the whole plant, or chop them in half with a spade and remove only part of the plant, leaving the rest in the ground. Next, shake or rinse off the soil on the rhizomes. You will see that each leaf cluster is attached to its own rhizome. They can usually be separated very easily with your fingers. Just snap them off from older tubers. Discard the old tubers to the compost bin.

Bearded Iris don't like to be molly-coddled. They prefer less than ideal, very well draining, dry soil conditions, hot sun and do not like to be fertilized! My kind of plant! When replanting, trim the leaf fan down to about 4" to prevent it from toppling over in the wind until established. Next, plant only the roots beneath the soil, leaving the rhizome to sit on top of the soil surface to bake in the sun. If growing for cutting, plant them in rows about 1ft apart; if growing for display in the mixed boarder, plant them in clusters of three to five plants at 1ft apart for a nice full display. Water in thoroughly, then once a week during the rest of that first growing season. After that, just leave them alone to do their thing until it's time to divide them again! They really don't need much help from us to do their best. Give any extra plants away to your neighbors, they will love you for it!

Now, lets get busy!

If you have any questions, put them in the comments below!

~Lee Ann~

Valmont Valley Farm

Where Beautiful Magic is Always in Bloom

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