Each week, Susan Richards of New North Greenhouses answers your gardening questions. Have questions about your gardening needs? Please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Les: Is there anything that can be done to help this Wichita blue juniper with all its browning? Thanks!
Carefully prune all the dead out of the shrub. Once that is done, you will be able to determine if it's worth saving. If it is worth saving, be sure to give a boost with evergreen food right away too. Also, keep watering if we end up with drought conditions again.
To help correct the splayed shape of the evergreen, use some old panty hose to pull the branches back in. Pantyhose are strong and supple yet soft enough so they won't damage the bark on branches.
In late fall, use some mesh tree wrap to pull the branches in tightly. This will help prevent further physically damage from a heavy snow load.
Bonnie: Can I prune my Purpleleaf Sandcherry now? The new growth is very long.
I usually don't recommend pruning after the end of July since pruning stimulates new growth. If you prune too late in the summer, new growth won't get a chance to harden off before cold winter weather arrives.
However, its early in August still so prune right away. You can cut back 1/3 to 1/2 of this season's growth to tidy it up.
Cathy: After all this rain and cooler weather, my pot of basil is looking a bit poor. What can I do for it?
If the basil has started to produce flowers like mine has, be sure to pinch those off. We don't want our basil plants wasting energy on flower production instead of leaves!
I cut my basil often so that flowers don't get a chance to form. If I can't use everything I cut right away, I but the basil stems into a glass of water and keep that on my kitchen counter in front of the window. Right now I have 3 stems that have produced roots. Those I will transplant soon so that I have more potted basil plants!
I learned the hard way that basil doesn't keep well in the fridge as it hates the cold!
If your leaves are looking pale green instead of a vibrant, health colour, that's a sign it's under stress. That frequent rain lately and constant watering when it was so hot has most likely leached all the nutrients out of the soil. Give your plant an application of organic fertilizer to help it along.
You should also look to see if roots are coming out of the bottom of the pot. If the plant is stressed by being extremely root bound, you can repot it with an organic potting soil into a larger container. This will also help the plant stay healthy right into fall.