The dreaded June to do list from the Whistling Gardener

June is the month I try to finish all the tasks that I thought I was going to complete in March, April and May (funny how that works).
The Whistling Gardener shares his list of garden tasks for June. Photo credit: Sunnyside Nursery.

This weekly column is being reproduced with the permission of Steve Smith, The Whistling Gardener, and owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville.

June is the month I try to finish all the tasks that I thought I was going to complete in March, April and May (funny how that works). If you find you need a break from all these chores then come join me for Happy Hour with the Whistling Gardener, this Friday, June 6, 2014, from 4-5 pm at Sorticulture in Legion Park, Everett. If you are not there I will assume you are hard at work in the garden. Now on to the List.

VEGGIES: June is really the proper time to plant our warm season crops like corn, beans, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers and all of these are available in either 4 inch or gallon containers ready to plunge into the garden. That’s not to say that we can’t still plant some of the cool season crops like carrots and lettuces.

Don’t forget the compost and fertilizer when you plant. It’s especially important if you are using a manufactured top soil. I usually double the rate of the organic fertilizer the first season with these soils.

If you are growing corn remember to add some additional feed and mound up the soil around the base after the plants are 12-16 inches tall. This will help anchor them and make them continue to grow better.

LAWNS: by now you should have controlled the dandelions and clover and reseeded or planted new grass but fear not, in our mild maritime climate June is an excellent time to do just about anything to the lawn. Come in and we’ll get you squared away. Growing a deep rooted system now will help the lawn weather through the dry summer months ahead.

ROSES: the roses are just coming into bloom and once they are finished it is important to prune them back and fertilize again. If you didn’t apply a fungicide and insecticide then you are probably enjoying a nice infestation of black spot and aphids.

In my opinion growing hybrid tea roses requires the timely application of some chemicals, either natural or synthetic, to control bugs and diseases. If you don’t want to deal with these issues then try the landscape roses like Floral Carpet, Drift or Oso Easy that are mostly disease free. (Of course they look nothing like a hybrid tea rose).

PERENNIALS: Perennials are such an essential component in creating an interesting and ever-changing garden but you need to remember that most perennials only bloom for 5-6 weeks so it is imperative that you combine early, mid and late bloomers to provide continuous non-stop color and interest.

June is the beginning of the summer bloomers and you really need to buy a few this month and a few more next month so you have a nice succession of color in your border. With proper planning you can have a perennial border that blooms 8-10 month a year. Don’t forget the compost and fertilizer when you plant perennials (I know, I sound like a broken record).

RHODIES: It is time to deadhead, prune if needed and fertilize. If your rhodies are simply too big for where they are planted it is best to find a new home for them and replace them with varieties that only grow 3-4 feet tall.

WEED CONTROL: Clean up the weeds, spread a generous helping of organic all purpose fertilizer and cover it with a one inch layer of compost. Your beds will look tidy, and what few weeds come up will be very easy to remove and the plants will be fed for the growing season. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

PLANTING: June is a great month to keep planting anything and everything. Fruits, veggies, flowers, shrubs and trees will all transplant well this month as long as you water deeply at the time of planting.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville and can be reached online at


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