Eliza Fournier Shares Midsummer Gardening Tips


The Chicago Botanic Garden's Eliza Fournier shares a bushel of recommendations to keep your garden healthy in the summer heat.

Below are five easy gardening tips for midsummer.

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Get Pests Under Control

Pictured clockwise from left are a cabbage moth, cabbage moth caterpillar and Japanese beetles.Pictured clockwise from left are a cabbage moth, cabbage moth caterpillar and Japanese beetles.

Small white butterflies are actually cabbage moths whose caterpillars can decimate greens. Apply BT (bacillus thuringiensis) - an organic spray made from a natural spore that is toxic to the moths. Another solution: Beer in a tuna can will attract and drown the bugs.

Beware: Japanese beetles are starting to hatch. The best way to get rid of them is by handpicking them from plants. Early in the morning is the best time to remove them because these beetles are especially lethargic at that time.

Prune and Deadhead Flowers

To deadhead is to pinch or cut off a flower stem below the spent flower and just above the first set of leaves. Removing spent blossoms encourages more blooms and more vigorous roots and leaves.

Also, prune spring-blooming shrubs for size, and cut back overgrown perennials like catmint and sage.

Shower Your Garden, Lawn

Water your garden early each morning unless there has been a soaking rain. Conserve water by using soaker hoses instead of sprinklers.

Grass goes through a natural dormancy phase in the summer months. Mow and water only as necessary to grow the most resilient lawn. Leave it at least two inches high and water only when starting to brown at edges.

Tend to Your Tomatoes

Cut back “suckers”—the small shoots that grow out of the joint where a branch on the tomato plant meets the stem. Removing these results in a more abundant yield.

If left alone, these suckers will grow into branches and make the plant bushier and less fruitful.

Attract Butterflies to Your Garden

Bring on the butterflies with a midsummer planting.

Remember that butterflies frequent sunny, protected sites where nectar flowers abound. They avoid windy, exposed sites.

Some plants for attracting butterflies include yarrow (Achillea), butterfly weed (Asclepias), butterfly bush (Buddleja), red valerian, Centranthus), coneflower (Echinacea), globe thistle (Echinops), blanket flower (Gaillardia), gayfeather, (Liatris), beebalm (Monarda) and black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia).


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