When he was younger, my son used to tell the following joke: “Why did the dog stay in the shade? He didn’t want to be a hotdog!”
So these are the hotdog days of summer; the hottest and most physically taxing days to work outside.
If you have kept up with your weeding and mulching and fed your soil and treasured plants, your dog days garden chores should be manageable. The most important chores are watering, weeding and some basic plant-specific maintenance.
- Water deeply and infrequently. Shallow watering encourages plants to keep roots at the surface. During the hotdog days, the top few inches of the soil dry out quickly and therefore shallow rooted plants suffer the most. Deep watering encourages the plant roots to grow deeper, and they will have greater resources to draw from in times of stress and drought.
- Water is absorbed by the plant through the roots, so water at the root zone; do not water the foliage which can also make the plant more susceptible to fungus and disease.
- Newly-planted trees and shrubs are especially vulnerable as they take 2-4 years to establish a suitable root system that can sustain the plant. They especially need a boost of water during these hotdog days.
- Perennials also need regular watering that first year to establish a viable root system.
- Keep pulling out the weeds, as they can be the worst garden bullies in the heat. Weeds aggressively compete with beloved plants for water, fertilizer and sunlight, and often encourage diseases and insect pests.
- If you can only spend a few precious hours of weeding, get the weeds out which are flowering or going to seed. As Roger Swain is known for saying “One weed left to seeding, yields seven more years of weeding.” Ugggh…were more true words ever stated.
Flowering Plant Care
- Although not mandatory for plant health, deadheading (removing dead flowers) encourages continued blooming for many plants, and keeps plants tidy.
- Bearded irises are best divided and replanted right after they finish blooming … yes, during these hotdog days.
- Roses will perform best if they are fertilized every six weeks. It is especially rewarding to keep fertilizing the newer, sterile shrub and ground cover roses as they will bloom past the frost.
One last tip – don’t be a hotdog; follow the shade! Schedule your chores in areas of the yard while they are shaded. That may mean you will work on the perennial bed on Saturday mornings, and the vegetable bed on Thursday after dinner, but the heat will be much more easily tolerated.
Stay cool and enjoy the fruits of your labor, and a hotdog or two. If you have a gardening question, feel free to leave a comment below or contact me.