How best to care for fruit trees, berries and flowers during the warmer months? Many people associate pruning with winter and the dormant period, which is true for most trees and shrubs, but summer is not the time to completely ignore perennials. Maintenance done during the warmer months can increase production and make it easier for you during the rest of the year. The following content also has some reference value for raised garden beds.
Fruit trees should be pruned twice a year, but for different purposes. In winter, when a tree has lost its leaves, the overall structure is easy to see and you can trim the shape and balance. In the summer, when a tree is covered in leaves and you can see that the growth may shade the fruit, trim the leaves to absorb sunlight and airflow, which will help prevent fungal disease. Summer pruning will always be a lighter version of pruning - think of it as an opportunity to fix and fine-tune.
Summer pruning should take place in July or August - any later and the tree will be out of active growth mode in the fall and winter. Look for internal branches that may create too much shade and prevent fruit from ripening, sluggish growth, or any wood that has been damaged. As usual, cut at an Angle, sloping down from the outward-facing bud. This is also a good time to assess the overall size of your tree and trim branches that may become elongated. Even short trees can overgrow without maintenance.
For hand pruning fruit trees, these ratchet hand trimmers are recommended because they have more power than other trimmers and the blades can be easily replaced for the desired sharpness. These bypass trimmers are another great option. Any areas that require manual pruning should be left for winter pruning, when the tree is dormant.
Strawberries are a summer favorite, but they need a little help to produce plenty of juicy berries. While this process is often overlooked by backyard gardeners, renovating strawberries after they've set fruit is the best thing you can do to protect them from fungal disease and can help your plants live longer and harvest more. Renovation is a simple process. Once the berries have stopped producing, grab all the leaves of the plant, about 2 inches from the crown base, and cut off a bunch of stems. This will allow you to remove the larger leaves on the outside, which will wilt and turn brown in the winter. Cutting them off in this way protects the inner crown of the strawberry, where new leaves will sprout. Because strawberry leaves are susceptible to infection, do not dispose of the leaves in your home composting system.
There are two different types of strawberries - June fruit and permanent fruit. This is important because you want to make sure your berries have stopped bearing fruit before you refurbish them. June plants can be renovated in late July or August, while permanent plants will have to wait until September or October.
To refurbish strawberries, multipurpose trimmers like these professional hand trimmers or Super Sharp trimmers are recommended. As always, wash the pruning before each use.
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Many flowers need pruning as flowering progresses -- dead flowers should be removed. This promotes plant growth, improves appearance, and often encourages further flowering. Some flowers that benefit from dead flowers include Shasta daisies, conures, lupines, lavender, calendulas, and phlox.
Dahlias are one of the most popular flowers at this time of year. The buds of dahlias grow on the stem, and when the flowers are cut, the next bud on the stem will bloom. If the flowers are left in the bush, the plant will continue to provide energy for seed development.
For withered flowers, the biggest problem is where to cut. A good rule of thumb is to cut down the stem to the next side leaf and cut through it. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. For roses, cut down to the next leaf with 5 lobes (cutting on small leaves with 3 lobes will produce weak buds). Using lavender, remove the long flower stems, and about an inch of leaves, trim the tips and shape the plant. This will promote a second flowering in the autumn (depending on the climate).
For wilted soft-stemmed (herbaceous) flowers, trimmers such as these fruit shears do a great job. Another option is a spring-loaded flower cutter, whose narrow nose allows easy access to the Spaces between the stems. For wood stem flowers, these bypass trimmers, or professional manual trimmers have the strength needed for tougher stems such as lavender or rose.