June: To Do in the Garden

By Gary Crispell, EMGV

RAIN!!!  Honest to goodness real water-out-of-the-sky RAIN!  I’m pretty sure I heard a collective sigh from all the plants that I have only watered sparingly.  Hopefully the forecasted above average chance of rain for the first half of June actually comes to fruition.  Hard to believe that we nearly drowned in February.

The Accidental Cottage Garden is quite different this year.  There is a plethora of lance leaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), a few galardia (Galardia pulchella) and one poppy (Papaver orientale).  The prairie coneflower (Rudbeckia hirta) and the Asiatic lilies (Lilium x ‘Corsica’ & and an unnamed orange one) are quite pleased with their new blanket of mulch.  The butterfly weed (Asclepeis tuberosa) has taken the spotlight from the dianthus (Dianthus ‘Sweetie Pie’). The as yet unidentified spreading garden chrysanthemum is trying to take over the floor of the garden under the English daisies (Bellis perennis).  And that’s the news from the Accidental Cottage Garden.


If you have heretofore procrastinated on this item it is TIME to fertilize warm season grasses (i.e. Bermuda, Zoysia, St. Augustine).  It is also the best (and really only) time to fertilize Centipede.  The general recommendation is for ½ lb. 15-0-14 or equivalent per 1000 sq ft.  Should you desire to be truly accurate- GET a FREE SOIL TEST.  Kits are available by calling the Extension office 919 560-0525, or by picking one up from the blue cabinet on the north side of the office (721 Foster St).

It would be difficult to core aerate our clayey soils too much, so a day or two after a rain (like any day this spring) or a good irrigation would be an ideal time do just that.

When mowing warm season grasses a good rule of thumb is to remove 1/3 of the new growth per mowing.

If you have been drooling over your neighbor’s Zoysia lawn June is a good time to start your own with sod or plugs.


After getting your FREE SOIL TEST in order to avoid over fertilizing now is the time to feed your dogwoods following the recommendations.

Vegetable gardens would like a side dressing of fertilizer about now to maximize production.


Again, for the procrastinators out there, if you want a crop this year better get these plants (too late for seeds) in the ground ASAP:  tomatoes, peppers, black-eyed peas, lima beans, green & wax beans, pumpkins, sweet potatoes.

Start (from seed) Brussel sprouts & collards to set out in mid-July.


Coniferous evergreens (They produce seeds in cones.) like pines, cedars, junipers, arborvitaes, etc. may be pruned now.

Hedges can be pruned now but be advised do not remove more than a third of the total plant top (The green part.)

Keep pinching your garden mums until mid-July.

Hydrangea macrophylla (the ones with the BIG leaves) can be pruned when the flowers fade.

Azaleas may be pruned until July 4. (An “old wives tale” that works.)

Dieback in ericaceous plants (acid loving) such as azalea, rhododendron, Pieris, etc. can be pruned out now.  Remember to cut below the damage and to sterilize the pruner with 10% bleach between cuts.


Patrol your shrubs for the following likely suspects: lace bugs, leaf miners, spider mites, aphids and bag worms.  Use appropriate measures to curtail their destructive tendencies.  If the bag worms have already bagged themselves you will have to hand pick them and destroy them in any manner you see fittin’.

June is also the beginning of the invasion better known as Japanese beetles.  There is a myriad of treatment options out there.

Keep an eye out for tomato early blight.  Watch for dark spots on the leaves and treat with an appropriate fungicide.  There are some good organics out there.

June is a good month to eradicate poison ivy, kudzu and honeysuckle.  Get while they are rapidly growing with an appropriate herbicide.

As with shrubs it is time to be on guard in the garden.  Several (many?) insects are looking for gourmet gardens to satisfy their gastronomic inclinations.  Look for a variety of worms on cruciferous veggies (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), cucumber beetles on cucumbers (ironically), squash borers on other cucurbits-squash and melons, flea beetles on green beans, tomatoes & eggplant and aphids on anything green.

Continue with regular pest management programs on bunch grapes, fruit trees and roses.

Use pesticides wisely, sparingly and only when necessary.  Always read the label and follow directions.


Water lawns as necessary but try to do it early in the day to avoid evaporative loss.  Watering lawn in the evening promotes disease.  Lawns and gardens need about 1 inch of water per week either from natural sources or irrigation. 

Strawberry beds can be renovated now.

It is also a marvelous time to sit on the deck or patio with a glass of your favorite cold beverage and enjoy your garden.  You can even invite friends this year especially if everyone is vaccinated.  Break out the grille and let’s party.

See y’all at the ballpark.

Views from the Accidental Cottage Garden. Photos by Gary Crispell.

*Resources and Further Reading

All About Soil Sampling and How to Get Supplies from Durham County Cooperative Extension

Organic Lawn Care Guide

Central North Carolina Planting Calendar for Annual Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs

General Pruning Tips

Learn more about insects and how to control them from the North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook

NC Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox (find your perfect plant or figure out what that unknown weed is!)