These Summer Garden Tips Are HOT!

If you’re fortunate enough to have a WaterSaver garden, you can skip the sprinklers and give your plants an early summer grooming instead to help prepare them for the dog days ahead

It’s June and the dog days of summer are already here: 100 degrees in the shade! Even in a WaterSaver garden, the spring bloom is over and the initial burst of spring growth may be panting for water.

Since the whole point is saving water (it is a WaterSaver garden, after all!), you can take a break from watering, pull out the clippers and give your mound plants a summer clip.

That’s right: a little early-summer grooming can be a substitute for water, preparing your plants for a long hot summer. For mounding plants like sage, mistflower and plumbago, a little haircut now can save a lot of time on the hose later, giving you a smaller plant that’ll need less water.

Salvias are a classic example of a mound plant. Salvias are sages, and there are hundreds of different species, many so well-adapted to hot dry conditions that it’s often said salvias can be cut back three times per year: once in early spring (approximately first week in March), once at the end of summer, and once RIGHT NOW.

As a bonus, salvias are especially easy to deadhead; just follow the stalk down past the old skimpy flowers and cut just above a fresh node with leaves and buds. If you want to be picky, you can remove a few of the older, thicker woody canes while you’re at it. After a few attempts it’ll be old hat, and salvias are very forgiving. Many gardeners just gather up the clump and snip off the outermost third of the clump’s length. Remember, you’re trying to remove about a third of the plant.

You can also cut back most of the tired mistflowers all the way to the ground. Mistflower always produces plenty of offsets and there’s no need to clutter up your summer garden with a mess of thirsty leaves. They’ll be back by the end of summer. Leave mistflowers in the shade uncut since they’re likely still looking perky.

Picture of Brad Wier
Brad Wier
Brad Wier is a SAWS conservation planner. Years in South Texas landscaping and public horticulture gave him a lasting enthusiasm for native plants that don’t die when sprinklers -- and gardeners -- break down. He’d rather save time and water for kayaking and tubing. He is a former kilt model, and hears hummingbirds.
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