July Gardening for Flowering Plants

Dividing Bearded Iris:  Now is a good time to divide bearded iris. After several years, iris form thick, fleshy rhizomes and they tend to lose vigor and will benefit from division.  This is also a good

opportunity to clear weeds from within iris clumps, as these are notoriously difficult to get out.  Once the flower has faded, lift the clump with a fork and separate the younger pieces from the outside of the clump.  Remove the youngest pieces with a sharp knife and throw out the older ones.  Cut off the faded leaves, and cut across the remaining foliage (About 6” from the root) leaving a fan shape of trimmed leaves.  This helps reduce water loss from the leaves and stops the wind from catching the tall foliage like a sail and blowing the plant over.  Replant in groups of 3, 5, or more and water them in thoroughly.  Iris must not be planted too deeply.  I like to use sod staples to help hold them in place, and then remove them once they are established.

Bearded Iris

Flower Maintenance:  If you don’t need the seeds, continue to cut back faded flowers on perennials.  This encourage new growth and more flowers later in the summer on some perennials.  Plants like oriental poppies and cranesbill can be cut back to ground level with a pair of shears.  Taller perennials like delphiniums, should have their faded flower spike cut back to encourage new shoots that may   produce more  flowers later.  Give plants a good feeding and a good water after cutting them back.

Now is a good time to fertilizer fall bearing flowers.  Sprinkle around the outside of the plant and lightly rake it in.  The beginning of July is when you should cut back any foliage still showing from spring blooming bulbs.  Finish planting out your summer beds.  Gaps in the borders can be filled with larger plants and perennials.  The sooner you get it done the better, so they have time to settle in and flower.  An easy way to deadhead annuls that are looking scraggly is to cut them back with a pair of shears. Cut them back hard and them give them a boost of high potash fertilizer.