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    Pruning and propagation: 5 things to do to keep your garden healthy
    • July 7, 2023

    1. You can keep your geraniums and roses blooming by removing their flowers as soon as they fade and by adding fertilizer on a regular basis. Weekly application of a granular or liquid fertilizer is the surest way to keep any summer-flowering ornamental plant, as well as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, blooming heavily, especially when they are grown in containers.

    2. We are often hesitant when it comes to pruning fruit trees but there is no reason to be that way. After fruit is harvested, feel free to reduce the tree’s height. Many veteran gardeners consider eight feet to be a standard height for fruit trees, facilitating an easier harvest than when trees are allowed to grow taller.

    3. Milk, diluted 1:10 in water has proven to be effective in controlling fungus, especially powdery mildew. Apply the spray weekly to crape myrtle, roses, grapevines, squashes, and other fungus susceptible plants. Leaves should be completely covered, top and bottom, with the spray. Skim milk and raw milk work the best; it is thought that the phosphate in milk is what deters the fungi. 

    4. If you sow seeds at this time of year, you will need to keep them hydrated throughout the day. This can be achieved by covering the soil where they are planted with burlap, which should be soaked each morning. Check daily to see if seeds have sprouted, at which point you can remove the burlap.

    5. In response to a column that promoted desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) as a medium-sized, drought tolerant California native tree, Thomas McClure sent the following instructions regarding its propagation: Remove 24-30” (3/4” caliper) woody shoots from the trees in December or January and bury them about 12” deep.  He says  that “no water is needed if the winter is wet” and “new growth will appear some time in the spring.” Describing his success in this endeavor McClure writes: “My 30-foot tree has ‘kids’ that are now about eight feet tall.”

    For more information about area plants and gardens, go to Joshua Siskin’s website, Send questions and photos to [email protected].

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    ​ Orange County Register