Deadheading and Pruning in June
TREES & SHRUBS
Disbud hybrid tea roses to produce larger blooms. These roses often produce several buds at the tip of each stem, resulting in slightly smaller blooms. Removing all the smaller buds and leaving the central, larger bud will result in a much larger bloom, plus a longer stem, ideal for cutting.
Suckers should be removed from roses. Most modern bushes are grafted (budded) onto a rootstock, giving the plant the vigour required to produce multiple blooms. It is normal for the rootstock to throw out the odd shoot every now and again. The foliage on these suckers is generally lighter in colour, making them easy to spot. Pull the suckers off at the origin rather than cut off – this will damage the sucker's root and make it less likely to regrow. If they are cut off the sucker is far more likely to grow again.
If lilacs become overgrown and leggy, June is the time to take action – just after flowering, but early enough to allow the shrub make new growth over the summer. Saw them right down to about 45cm (18in) from the base. A mass of new shoots will soon sprout – remove a good amount of shoots growing inwards across the centre of the plant. This will result in a much bushier shrub with a far more appealing shape.
Cut back oriental poppies after flowering, preferably before they start to look messy. Siting them in the middle or back of a border means other plants will help to hide this messy phase after flowering. To make them look better, cut them right back to near ground level, sprinkle organic fertiliser around the plants and give a good water. If you're lucky, enough new growth will be encouraged that you get to enjoy a few more flowers later in the summer.
Euphorbia varieties robbiae and characias tend to look better if the old flowerheads are removed just as they are going over. Always be sure to wear gloves when pruning euphorbias, as the milky white sap can irritate sensitive skin. Remove the old growths to ground level. This will encourage new growth from the base, keeping the plant bushy and healthy.
Deadhead lupins and delphiniums as the flowers fade – this ensures the best chance of further blooms being produced later in the summer. Cut faded flower spires off at ground level or cut them back to strong new shoots.
Gooseberries can also be thinned for larger fruits – the thinnings can be cooked.
Don't be tempted to thin out apples and pears until after the 'June drop'. It's tempting to go ahead and prune early, but be patient – it's less painful to thin out what is left after the drop if necessary, rather than thinning too soon and watching the remaining fruit fall anyway.
The same goes for plums – heavy crops can be thinned out this month to prevent the brittle branches of the plum trees from breaking. It also discourages biennial bearing. To ensure plenty of fruit remains on the tree, only remove damaged or diseased fruit until after the June drop, as the trees will naturally shed some fruit around now. Wait until this has happened, then thin out again if the fruits still appear overcrowded. You can also support heavy branches if you are worried that they will be damaged by the weight of the fruit, especially on younger trees.
Prune excess growth on vines. 'Stop' or pinch out the tip of fruiting shoots at a leaf beyond three to four developing clusters of fruit. Pinch back any sideshoots from these stems to one or two leaves. Vines grown outdoors in the UK climate will only ripen a few good bunches of grapes on each sideshoot from the main stem or rod, so the most sensible option is to prevent too many from forming – this way the plant can use its energy wisely when growing and ripening the fruit.
Strawberries will now be producing lots of runners. Remove, or peg these down to make new plants, if required.
Continue removing sideshoots from tomatoes, by bending them to one side with your thumb and forefinger. Larger shoots can be cut off with secateurs. The sooner the sideshoots are removed, the less of a shock it is to the plant. Tomatoes are very prone to picking up viruses, so dip the secateurs in a weak solution of garden disinfectant after each cut to avoid spreading virus among the plants.
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