Summer Gardening in Nebraska

Dubs, Alice - Summer Beauty - Sheridan CountyWhen it comes to Nebraska weather, we all tend to forget how quickly our feelings can switch. Only six months ago many of us were heard complaining about how cold it was outside. Many pleaded for Mother Nature to give us a bit of warm weather to remind us spring would soon return. What a difference a few short months can make.

While spring and early summer have been enjoyable with at times cooler temperatures, there isn’t anything quite like summer in Nebraska. Mother Nature has turned up the heat and sent us more normal summer weather. The old adage “If you don’t like the weather – wait five minutes – it’ll change” comes to mind.

Summer for many is a time for vacations, celebrating the Fourth and enjoying the sweet taste of vegetables from our vegetable gardens. And for those of us in the nursery industry, we spend our time helping clients keep their landscapes and gardens looking their best. For some that means dealing with disease and insects, others it could mean assistance with plant care and for others installing new plantings.

While the summer is not a time to “plant and forget,” it can be a great time to plant. And while some days bring terrible heat, most summer mornings or early evenings bring moderation making it rather enjoyable to be out working in our landscapes and gardens.

For those who are itching to add a few plants or simply have finally found time to work in the landscape, summer planting can offer great success with proper care. A young plant, whether it is planted in the cool spring or the hot summer, needs care to make sure it survives until it can set its roots and begin caring for itself. How long this takes will depend on the plant. Check with your local nursery professional for specific care instructions for your specific plantings.

When planting in summer it must be done with bit of understanding and care, and can sometimes have better results than waiting for the fall. Often people who plant in the summer tend to better care for their plants than those who wait for fall.

Back off on fertilizing efforts in the heat, let your plants survive the heat; then as fall approaches and things cool feel free to begin fertilizing again.

Don’t worry if some of your new plants aren’t looking as good as they did in the spring when first planted. A bit of timely waterings, maybe some trimming to shape the plant and a bit of mulch to help hold the moisture around the root system can do wonders to help our plants through the summer. With a bit of care plants showing stress in the heat should perk right back up and even thrive in Nebraska’s challenging summers.

During summer months, try to walk your landscape and garden at least once a week even in the heat. Check for weeds, look for insect or disease issues and generally try to catch problems before they can get out of hand in the heat. A bit of work in the heat could solve a problem with minimal effort versus waiting until the weather is cooler.

As long as you are able to check on your plants once or twice a week through the summer and add water as needed, your plants should continue to grow well and look good. Overall, Mother Nature can be our best friend or worst enemy. Which one we believe she is all depends on what she brings us each day. As long as we realize that sometimes we need to help her out when caring for our plants even including doing some planting can be an enjoyable and fulfilling part of our lives all growing season long – even in the heat of the summer.

— Andy Campbell is manager of Campbell’s Nurseries Landscape Department. A Lancaster County Farm Bureau Member, Campbell’s, a family owned Nebraska business since 1912, offers assistance for all your landscaping and gardening needs at either of their two Lincoln garden centers or through their landscape design office.

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