Master Gardener tips for the Panhandle – Week of June 20 , 2022

By Britni Schmaltz, Nebraska Extension Master Gardener

Be aware when fertilizing your perennials.

Perennial flowers, ground covers and grasses don’t need a lot of fertilization and in fact some may react negatively. Overfertilized perennials may bolt, producing excessive soft growth instead of more flowers. To be safe, a soil test will help you determine the needs of your plants and the amount of fertilizer, if any, is warranted. Fertilizers with a 10-10-10 formula are generally sufficient.

Do you have floppy plants?  Stake ‘em!

Some plants may need staking to prevent flopping over in the garden and flower beds. Plants with heavy flower heads or thin stems tend to blow over or bend under pressure of excess water and wind. Staking should be done early in the season to allow the plants to grow through and around, hiding the stake by midseason. Peonies, Dahlias, and tomatoes are examples of plants that benefit from extra support. 

Did you know, it's as easy as a pinch to achieve robust plants? 

Simply removing or pinching the top portion of your plant will cause it to be more full and lush. Pinching off the end set of leaves or buds, results in two new branches for blossoms. Most fall blooming perennials benefit from a couple reductions by no later than the 4th of July. Plants that benefit from a good pinch include asters, mums, Russian sage, sedum, dahlias and zinnias. 

Dividing Your Irises

If your irises didn’t have an abundance of blooms, they may need to be divided. Irises generally need dividing every 3-5 years and late summer is the best time to do it. Dig up and separate the rhizomes. Luckily, they aren’t buried very deep and are pretty indestructible. Replant them in a new location 12-18 inches apart if space allows, or gift them to neighbors and friends. 

Getting a Good Strawberry Crop

Strawberries are usually the first fruit we harvest each year. Here's a few tips for a good crop. If you have beautiful plants with not many berries, remove the runners. Plant the strawberries in rows and not large masses. June-bearing strawberries have the best overall yield each growing season. Be sure your patch gets 10 or more hours of direct sunlight. At the end of the season rake straw or organic matter over the plants to aid as insulation for the winter months.