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EDDIE SEAGLE: July the time to plant flowers for fall

The African iris is a good flower to plant in July. (Special Photo)

The African iris is a good flower to plant in July. (Special Photo)

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Nasturtiums are great flowers to plant for the fall. (Special Photo)

Enjoy friendships and flowers during the Fourth!

“Fourth of July isn’t all about barbecues and fireworks. It’s also about freedom, liberty and the birthday of our country.” — Kori Ellis.

Many thanks are expressed to the many men and women in uniform who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom and to those who have served and/or are currently serving this great country. Without your service, we could not say “Happy Birthday to the USA!”

It’s the week of the fourth! Happy Fourth of July to all! This week is always a special time each year in America as vacations are taken, families are visited, activities are planned, memories are made, fellowships are shared, good friends are remembered, and new friendships are made while celebrating our nation’s independence in numerous ways and exciting places. It is truly a week for building relationships. Enjoy friendships and flowers during the Fourth!

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Above, its deep red hue makes the Aztec lily distinctive. Top right, July is the ideal time to plant annuals such as zinnias, so they will be ready to bloom during the fall. Bottom right, crossandra orange color makes is a perfect candidate for early fall planting. (Special photo)

For your gardening pleasures, many annual plants are available touting the red, white and blue colors of our great country for exhibition at your home. How you plan your color choices and implement your projects help to dictate the degree of enjoyment that you and your guests will enjoy. Your planting designs can be simple and follow basic guidelines, or you may elect to develop a more elaborate patriotic flower display. Such examples may include developing an area of your front lawn or landscape in public view for outstanding curb appeal with an astounding American flag planting, a fascinating outline of the good ole USA, a liberty bell planting using select annuals, or simply placing the grand ole flag on display.

Thus, as you celebrate this holiday, whether in the confines of your very own landscape or elsewhere, here are a few pointers for you.

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July is the ideal time to plant annuals such as zinnias, so they will be ready to bloom during the fall. (Special photo)

Annuals: It’s time to plant more zinnias, nasturtiums, and other annuals for a great late summer and fall show of color. Continue to dead-head annuals that have already bloomed and expired. Cut-back impatiens and other leggy annuals to encourage compact growth and more blooms. Harvest leaves and cut back herbs to encourage healthier growth. Plant celosia, coleus, crossandra, exacum, hollyhock, impatiens, kalanchoe, marigolds, nicotiana, ornamental pepper, periwinkle, portulaca, and salvia this month.

Bulbs and Perennials: Dig up and divide over-crowded irises and daylilies at this time. Pinch off expired blooms for effective nutrient management and better subsequent flowering. Stop pinching off mums in mid-July so they can develop flower buds for the fall. Give your plants a good watering once or twice a week rather than frequently and lightly. Bulbs good for July and August plantings include African iris, Aztec lily, butterfly lily, crinum, gladiolus, iris, Kaffir lily, society garlic, spider lily, and walking iris.

Hardscapes: In addition to plants, incorporate hardscape features into your landscape design efforts. Like evergreens, they make a statement, provide structure each season and frame your property (walls and fences). Hardscape features such as fences and arbors give definition and completion, while decks and patios provide smooth and effective transition from indoor rooms to outdoor spaces.

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Eddie Seagle (Special photo)

Pruning: Pruning of large trees should be a job that is out-sourced to qualified tree care professionals with the proper equipment. Ask questions and get answers before contracting with any company. Be sure that they are bonded and follow safety precautions. Otherwise, you can do most of the pruning of shrubs and small trees if you get the proper advice, equipment and training. For example, to shorten a branch or twig, cut it back to a side branch or make the cut about 1/4 inch above the bud. Always prune above a bud facing the outside of a plant to force the new branch to grow in that direction.

To properly remove large branches, three or four cuts will be necessary to avoid tearing the bark and damaging the tree. Make the first cut on the underside of the branch about 18-inches from the trunk by undercutting one-third to one-half way through the branch (be careful not to bind the saw with the weight of the limb). Make the second cut a couple of inches further out on the top of the branch until the branch breaks free and falls to the ground. Be sure that all safety precautions have been followed and that the falling branch does not harm people, property, or other plants.

Before making the final cut which will separate the branch base from the main stem or trunk, identify the branch collar which grows from the stem tissue around the base of the branch. Then make the pruning cuts so that only branch tissue (wood on the branch side of the collar) is removed. Be careful to prune just beyond the branch collar without damaging the collar or leaving a stub. If the branch collar is left intact and undamaged after pruning, the wound will seal more effectively and the stem tissue will not decay. By following this procedure, the health of the tree will not be compromised.

Trees and shrubs that flower early in the growing season on last year’s growth should be pruned immediately after they finish blooming. Do not prune azaleas after the second week of July or the buds for next year’s blooms will be removed and fewer flowers will develop next spring. Complete the last pruning of other shrubs in September so that new growth can mature and harden-off before cold weather arrives. Prune damaged or dead branches on trees and shrubs as needed.

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Crossandra orange color makes is a perfect candidate for early fall planting. (Special photo)

Pests: Continue treating roses for powdery mildew, black spot, and insects. Remove spent blooms and damaged leaves to prevent any spread of fungus. Scout the landscape and monitor all plants for scale, spider mites, lacebugs, and leafhoppers which are common this month. Small white dots on the leaves of azaleas and other ornamental plants may indicate lacebug activity. Manually remove any bagworms from evergreens or if the population is significant seek professional advice for control. Be on the look-out for any unusual growth or diseases on trees and shrubs.

Scout plants: Scout all your plants and flowers throughout the landscape on a regular basis to make sure they are healthy, alive, and vibrant. Dehydrated or dead plants and flowers become eyesores and reduce curb appeal while becoming a distraction and liability and should be removed and replaced with new flowers, plants, or container plantings. When purchasing new plants, select low-maintenance and sustainable varieties that offer curb appeal with minimum effort to grow.

As you continue your sustainable plantscaping and hardscaping this month and commit to this cost and effort, please also commit to providing the necessary care to keep your plants healthy and attractive. While enjoying the fragrances of the flowers, take the time to hear birds singing in the trees and the bird singing in your soul. And, as always, remember to feed and water the birds! Enjoy friendships and flowers this week! Happy Birthday to the USA!

Please pray for each member of our mission team (Heritage of Moultrie, Free Chapel of Gainseville, and First Presbyterian of Haines City, FL) this week as we spiritually and physically prepare for our mission trip to the Amazonia Jungle of Peru on July 10-19.

“Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples.” — Psalm 96:3.

Eddie Seagle is a Sustainability Associate, Golf Environment Organization (Scotland), Agronomist and Horticulturalist, CSI: Seagle (Consulting Services International), Professor Emeritus and Honorary Alumnus, Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, and Associate Editor of The Golf Course, International Journal of Golf Science. Direct inquiries to eddie@csiseagle.com.