July FAQs


Q – What is that shiny golden bug feeding on my Sweet Potato Vine, Morning Glories, & other plants?
A– This is Golden Tortoise Beetle. One of its preferred foods is the genus Ipomoea, which includes these plants. Control: Any spray good for beetles in general, such as Sevin. See reference sheet “Golden Tortoise Beetle”.

Perennials and Roses:

Q – Can I seed perennials now to flower next summer?
A– Start new seedlings indoors, or outdoors in a protected area if you can control the watering situation carefully. Plant seedlings into their final locations or into a holding bed before fall. Provide a loose, weed-free mulch after the ground freezes but before snowfall.

Q–What should I do with my spring-flowering perennials that have gone by?
A– Cut back dead stems or seed heads. Cut back and divide spring-flowering perennials like iris, creeping phlox, etc. Water well until established. Plant jumbo pots of annuals in bare spaces.

Q– What is that irridescent black beetle clustered on my rose blossoms, raspberries, and other plants?
A– Japanese beetles. See reference sheets. Spraying or hand-picking are common methods of control. If using pheremone traps, place them at the edge of your property but not near the neighbors’ gardens, as these will attract large numbers of beetles to that area.

Q– Why are my lilacs, summer phlox, bee balm, and cucumbers covered with powdery white?
A – This is a fungal disease called powdery mildew. To prevent the problem in the future, avoid high nitrogen fertilizers, provide a location with good sun and good air circulation, select resistant varieties when available, remove and destroy dead leaves and debris in fall, avoid watering leaves especially in the evening, use fungicides as soon as there is any sign of mildew and continue through the season. A bad infestation is difficult to control for the remainder of the season. Prevention and preventive spraying are the best controls.

Vegetables and Fruits:

Q– The bottom leaves of my tomatoes are turning yellow, then brown and shriveling. What’s wrong?
A– Probably they have Early Blight. Water early in the day whenever possible, so plants can dry before nightfall. Pick off affected foliage and destroy (do not add to compost). Spray or dust with an all-purpose fungicide like Copper Fungicide  at the first sign of damage, or by mid-July. Or just wait out the season without treatment, as you will get edible tomatoes even with blight affecting the plant. Only the most severe cases will prevent a normal harvest. At the end of the season, destroy plants and discarded fruits and do not compost them. Next spring when planting, use a black plastic mulch to reduce the amount of spores that splash up onto the leaves from the soil.

Q– The bottom of my tomato fruit is turning black. What’s wrong?
A– This is probably Blossom End Rot. The most common cause is uneven watering. Soil should be evenly moist, rather than drying out hard and then getting a good watering. Pot-grown tomatoes are particularly susceptible, so use a pot that is as large as you can manage to prevent the plant becoming root-bound, and establish a regular watering program.
This condition also occurs in the garden. Irrigate regularly when rain is inadequate. The use of mulch also helps to keep the soil moisture even; black plastic rather than organic mulch cuts down on disease and provides the heat that tomatoes need.

Q– How can I fill in empty spots in my garden left by early crops that have been harvested?
A– Plant late crops of beans, radish, broccoli, lettuce & other greens, and peas before August 1. Or plant cover crops like annual rye or buckwheat and dig them into the soil later, to improve the soil.

Q– What should I be doing for my apple trees?
A– Summer is a good time for light pruning, especially of water sprouts (vigorous upright shoots). Continue spraying on schedule to prevent scab.

Q– How can I prevent birds from eating my blueberries before I can pick them?
A– Cover bushes with bird netting before berries start to turn blue. Remove net only to harvest fruit.

Q– What is the soft, fat, reddish-brown larva or that fat, yellow beetle with black stripes on my potatoes, peppers, or eggplants?
A– Colorado Potato Beetle or its larvae. Click here for more information.

Trees & Shrubs:

Q– How much should I be watering?
A– Water at least 1” per week if that amount of rain does not fall. This is particularly important for shallow-rooted shrubs like rhododendrons, which cannot draw moisture from deep in the soil and which are forming next year’s buds now. It is also especially important for trees & shrubs just planted this year.

Q– Should I still be pruning?
A– Stop pruning evergreens and spring-flowering shrubs that flower on previous-year’s growth by mid-July. Summer-flowering shrubs can be pruned after flowering or early next spring.

Tomato problem resources:

http://extension.umaine.edu/ipm/ipddl/publications/5087e/  http://umaine.edu/publications/2427e/  http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/garden/02949.html

Timely tips:
• Start a preventative spray of Bt for tomato hornworm, cabbage worms and fall web-worm, and apply fungicide for tall phlox.
• Renovate strawberry beds when the harvest ends.
• Start late crops of cold-tolerant vegetables like scallions, peas, lettuce, spinach, other greens, beans and radishes.
• Hold back on nitrogen fertilizer applications to the lawn in the heat of summer.
• Keep watering so that lawns and gardens receive at least 1” of water per week from rain or hose.

  • Prune summer-flowering shrubs after they bloom.
  • finish pruning evergreens and fruit trees b mid-July.
  • Cut back perennials that have finished flowering.
  • Spray fungicide on plants that are susceptible to fungal diseases.
  • plant late crops of vegetables.
  • cover blueberries with netting.
  • Keep tomatoes evenly moist, but not soggy.
  • Whenever possible, keep porch, garage, and other outdoor lights off during mid-summer after dark. The lights attract browntail moths, which cause health problems in humans. Read our blog for more details.