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Summer gardening season is upon us in Canada, and from perennials to peppers, people are eager to get their outdoor spaces blooming.

Destroying the lily enemy is your No. 1 pro gardening tip


Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Monday, May 7, 2018, 4:50 PM - Summer gardening season is upon us in Canada, and from perennials to peppers, people are eager to get their outdoor spaces blooming.

While some places are soaking in the sun, others are not out of the woods completely as far as cold weather goes. Wondering when to plant your warm-season tomatoes? How do you get rid of the notorious red lily beetle?

Horticulturalist Ken Brown of Whitby, Ont., has been dallying in the dirt for most of his life. He has some great tips to share with you to give your garden a fantastic, long-lasting summer look.

1. GETTING RID OF PESTS

The red lily beetle is known to decimate lilies. Both adults and larvae devour the plant and they are difficult to control because commercial sprays are not on the market anymore, explains Brown. While you can purchase or make insecticidal soaps, the most effective way of eliminating the problem is to simply destroy the pest by using a pair of needle-nose pliers.

"The trouble is most sprays are contact sprays, you have to actually hit the bug," says Brown. "Come back in five minutes, and there will be more beetles."

It is key to catch the adults as the larvae often destroy lilies faster than adults. Hundreds of larvae may hatch at once and they begin eating immediately.

WATCH BELOW: Red and black scourge: What they are, what you can do about them

2. TIME TO BRING PLANTS OUTDOORS

In our last gardening installment we showed you how to sow vegetable and flower seeds indoors for several weeks before transplanting outside for the summer. Most plants have been growing in cell packs since mid-March and now it's time to find them a new home.

In the video that leads this article, Brown shows you how to plant warm weather vegetables like red peppers and tomatoes. With ideal conditions allowing plants to bud earlier this year for some, a single frost advisory could be all it takes to damage or even kill your vegetable garden or flowers. Be sure to keep an eye on the forecast. When anticipating frost, cover your plants overnight with burlap or a bed sheet to act as an insulation. If possible, shield the plants first with coffee cans or tomato cages and lay the insulation over top.

When transplanting, the key is to not pull the plant out of the pot or cell pack, but rather pull the pot off the plant. Dig a hole in your garden, gently drop the plant and cover with some soil. Leave about a foot or more between each plant and water.

3. PRUNING

Pruning is an essential gardening skill. When you prune correctly, you encourage healthy growth and flowering. However, not all hydrangeas are pruned at the same time, so it's important to know what variety you have. If you prune your hydrangea at the wrong time of year, you could cut into next season's blooms, explains Brown.

Determine if your hydrangea blooms on old wood. If it does, this means your plant produces new spring blooms on last year's buds. Hydrangeas with this characteristic tend to bloom in early summer and the flowers die by mid-summer. At this point the shrub begins producing the buds that will bloom the following year. Hydrangeas that bloom on old wood include: bigleaf, mopleaf or lacecap. In the video above, Brown shows you how to prune back to the buds to allow for a nice and round shrub.

If your hydrangea blooms on this year's growth, such as the Annabelle type, many people like to cut them within a few inches of the ground each fall, so they bloom beautifully in the spring and summer.

4. POTTING PLANTS FOR DECKS

Container gardening is simple and adds the perfect colour to your deck.

Fill your containers with beautiful geraniums. If you have an old and sad looking container from last year, cut off the dead and use all of the old soil.

"One secret I often tell people is that some of my containers have had the same soil for eight or nine years," says Brown.

Old soil is packed with organic matter and great for new flowers. As long as the soil is loose and workable, it is fine, explains Brown.

Dig about an inch or two deep into the old soil and plant a few geraniums. Leave about an inch and a bit below the top of the pot, so you can add enough water. Brown recommends adding a transplant fertilizer to your water. A high phosphorous fertilizer allows the roots to grow.

How often should you water?

"I get asked that question a lot. You want me to tell you two cups on Tuesday, but it's really simple. Water when it needs it. Check to see if the soil is dry and if it is, water," says Brown. "During the beginning of summer I water about once a week and by mid-summer once a day."

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