COMPLETE HOME GARDENER: Warm up to June planting

The middle of June is a good time to plant edibles, flower seeds and add trees and shrubs to the landscape. The soil is warming so you can continue to plant seeds of lettuce, carrots and radish and even add seeds of warm season crops like beans, corn, squash and cucumber.

Heat-loving flowers like marigolds, zinnias and cosmos can be planted directly into the ground now. Be sure to loosen the earth to a depth of at least 6 inches and work in compost or steer manure to improve the soil. The biggest danger to new seedlings in our area are slugs so put out the slug bait or make a slug trap using wads of damp newspaper. Slugs, earwigs and sow bugs love to hunker down in the folds of damp newspaper seeking a cool and shaded spot during the day. This makes them easy to gather up and remove from the garden.

Early summer is the best time to add sedums, succulents and other drought-resistant plants to pots and beds.

I’ll be giving seminars on working with sedums, succulents and drought-resistant plants this week so check out my web page at or friend me on Facebook. You can go to and sign up to follow @binettigarden so you’ll be alerted with tips on what to do in the garden.

Now here’s some inspiration from Italy on how to save water, time and energy in the garden this summer.

1. Place pots close to the patio.

The more thirsty a plant, the nearer it should be to a source of water. Potted plants require the most water so they belong on a patio or porch where you can see them and are convenient to water.

2. Use sedums in urns and distant locations.

If you really need a dramatic urn or accent container at your garden entry or out of reach of a hose, plant your pots with sedums and succulents.

Sedum Angelina: If you thought Angelina Jolie was prolific and succulent, wait until you meet this golden globe winner. It thrives in sun and full shade, looks great all winter and drapes it’s long limbs gracefully over the edge of urns, containers, raised beds and retaining walls. This sedum adds instant sunshine with its golden foliage and blocks out weeds when planted in quick-draining soil or gravel.

3. Mama Mia! Add some Italian drama!

All over Italy the locals use containers attached to walls or placed on tiny balconies. They fill these small pots with sedums like burrow’s tail, hens and chicks and the more winter-tender echeveria. Clay pots are the preference of sedums that need good drainage and also of Italians with their classic sense of design. But brightly-painted pottery livens the street scene in southern Italy where colorful pots are filled with succulents and yuccas.

Fire Sticks (Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Rosen’): This bright red succulent is also called Red Pencil Tree in Italy, Arizona and Southern California but here in the Northwest it is only grown as a novelty houseplant. It’s time to go for bold and create some shocking beauty. Check the indoor plant section of nurseries and garden centers for Fire Sticks and other tender sedums and use this unusual, drought-resistant plant to heat up a container garden and spark conversation.

4. By the Sea with Succulents

Beach and lake front properties often deal with hot sun and drying winds. This is where Mother Nature provides inspiration with the curling leaves, blue shades and wavy textures of hybrid Echeveria. Group them together with sea shells or plant them inside large shells for a display that resembles jelly fish, seaweed, coral and kelp. Really, you’ll be amazed at the colors, textures and drought-resistant habits of the new Echeverias.

Madre Del Sur Echeveria: The name translates to “Mother of the Sea” and the beautiful wavy edge on each and every succulent leaf makes this pale, gray plant one you just have to touch – then caress, fondle and whisper to in a loving way. More Echeverias with names like Zorro, AfterGlow, Black Prince, Blue Atoll and Topsy Turvy will spark the imagination of even the most jaded gardener. By the way, now is the time to move your succulent jade tree into the garden for the summer. Just like the Echerverias, jade plants are drought-resistant but need to be brought back indoors before the first frost of fall.

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