Garden Solutions

June is National Perennial Gardening Month. Perennials are herbaceous plants that die back to the ground in the winter but return year after year to dazzle us with color.

Past and present Perennials of the Year (these are proven performance perennials that have been named since 1991) are usually great choices for anyone’s garden, as they are tried and true varieties.

The 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year is Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum,’ commonly known as variegated Solomon’s Seal or striped Solomon’s Seal. This all-season perennial has greenish-white flowers in late spring and variegated foliage throughout the growing season. The foliage turns yellow in the fall and grows well in moist soil in partial to full shade.

We are in planting zone 6, so it is always important to check that bit of information on all plants you plan to leave in the garden from year to year as well. Check the Perennial Plant Association website at for perennial plants of the year since 1991 plus gardening tips.

Here are nine quick tips to fabulous perennials:

1. Begin by preparing the soil.

2. Choose plants carefully, sun versus shade, etc.

3. Purchase plants that can establish in one season.

4. Space perennials to give them room to grow.

5. Fertilize.

6. Mulch.

7. Control weeds.

8. Control insects.

9. Additionally, clean up the beds each season. Enjoy!

Well, June is also the month of graduations, weddings, vacations, Father’s Day and the beginning of summer. This is the month that we all begin to spend more of our free time out of doors, enjoying our gardens and the fruits of our labors from the last three-plus months.

If all of you have kept up with your tasks, then this month should be easy. However, if you are like me, June will be a month you can get caught up.

The first task that we need to do this month is to get the spring flowering trees and shrubs trimmed. Flowering crabapples, serviceberry, dogwoods, magnolias, lilacs and viburnums all set their buds for next year’s flower on the new growth they develop this year. These plants should be pruned now to encourage new growth and therefore flower buds for next year.

It is recommended that you complete the pruning of these plants early this month.

Here are other garden tips for June:

• Watch for the outbreak of bagworms on garden plants, especially junipers. Then spray affected plants with permethrin sold under the label “Eight.”

• Deadhead bulbs and spring perennials as blossoms fade.

• Repeat plantings of corn and beans to extend the harvest season.

• Fertilize zoysia grass now while it is actively growing.

• Renovate strawberries after harvest. Plow the rows; thin out excess plants; remove weeds; fertilize and apply mulch for weed control.

• Spray roses with a fungicide to prevent black spot disease and fertilize monthly.

• Continue pinching back your garden mums until July 4th to promote full, bushy growth and good fall color.

• Water turf as needed to prevent drought stress, and watch for fungus problems.

• Mow lawns frequently enough to remove no more than one-third the total height per mowing.

• Continue enjoying the antics of the wildlife in your yard and gardens by continuing to supply food and water sources for them.

• Change hummingbird nectar at least weekly to prevent fungus from growing. You can make your own nectar using one part sugar to four parts water — no food coloring please!

• Move houseplants outside for the summer. Place plants in areas with dappled shade and some protection from hot summer winds.

• Rejuvenate your older lilacs by cutting back to one-third of the largest branches. This will create a fuller, more lush specimen.

• Orioles (if you were lucky enough to keep them around) begin building a gray woven nest; this takes about a week.

• Watch for birds carrying food to their young.

• Gray squirrels begin a second breeding.

Are you late getting planting started in your garden this year? You are not alone!

As busy as we were this May, and as wet as the weather was, many people have commented that they haven’t even begun their planting. That’s OK — you still have plenty of time.

Plant selections should still be pretty strong at independent garden centers. Fully enjoy your garden; it is the only true place to connect you to Mother Nature.

See you in the garden!

This monthly column is written by Sandi Hillermann McDonald of Hillermann Nursery & Florist, Washington.