July

In the garden:

Cut back perennials that have finished flowering.

Hanging baskets and containers should be fed regularly, once a week should be enough. There are specialist feeds for hanging baskets, but a good general fertilizer will also do.

It’s time to prune magnolia. Each variety has its own requirements, but as a general rule deciduous magnolias shouldn’t be pruned too heavily, and pruning should aim to leave the tree with a balanced, open crown. Evergreen magnolias can take hard pruning, but not too often. Where you can, spread your pruning of magnolias over two to three years to avoid stressing the tree.

Dead head flowering summer bedding plants to encourage more flowers to come.

Look out for clematis wilt, which will show up as blackened, wilting leaves. Cut out affected parts of the plant and destroy anything you remove. Sometimes wilt is caused by fungal infection, but environmental stress can also cause leaves to wilt. The healthier and better cared for your plant is the less likely it is to suffer from any disease problems.

You can take cuttings from tender plants, shrubs and herbaceous perennials. The cuttings can be grown on indoors over the winter.

Fruit and veg:

Courgette and squash plants can be encouraged to branch out and produce more fruit by nipping out the growing tips. The leaves of these plants can grow big enough to cause shading problems, so remove large leaves to allow the sun in to help the fruits ripen.

Small courgettes should be harvested early, unless you’re looking for marrows.

Cut off the leaves on tomato plants below the first truss of formed fruit to prevent diseases.

For a good crop, feed tomatoes once a week with a specialist feed like Tomorite.

Peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and other succulent, tender vegetables will benefit from a high-potash fertiliser.

Fruits in containers or pots should be given a high-potash feed too.

Pick runner beans as they come to encourage more pods to form. Runner beans freeze well, just top and tail and blanch them first.

Get your pruning saw and secateurs out and head to the fruit garden where it’s time to cut back cherries, plums, apricots and similar fruits. Cut out diseased or damaged branches and remove crowded growth.

Other jobs:

Keep slugs away with Slug Clear or copper tape stuck around containers. Slugs are a perennial problem and collecting them by hand whenever you see them should be part of your gardening routine. Destroy them with boiling water or salt solution, or if you’re squeamish, release them well away from your garden.

Look for scarlet lily beetles on your lilies. Pick them off and crush them. Knock off any of the small, sausage-shaped red eggs you see. The Royal Horticultural Society are studying the spread of this relatively recent pest and there’s a survey on their website if you have a couple of minutes to spare.

The real bad boys of the weed world, like bindweed and ground elder, are best sprayed now while they have a lot of leaf through which to absorb the herbicide.