The third week of July is when you can hit the rewind button on certain summer flowers and watch them bloom again. Cut back delphiniums, Shasta daisies and leggy petunias now.
Leave 4 to 6 inches of old growth and fertilize and water after this drastic pruning. New growth will produce a second wave of blooms after just a short pause. You’ll enjoy an encore performance of the flower show in August.
Q. Why don’t all my cucumber flowers produce cucumbers? I have plenty of bees and other insects to pollinize. O.M. Auburn
A. Cucumbers bloom with both male and female flowers. Once the pollinators move the pollen from the male flower to the female bloom, the male flowers fall off as their duty is done. The fertile females grow the baby cucumbers. Just be sure you keep the soil moist while the cukes are young and in our climate grow the trailing cucumbers on a trellis to keep them off the damp ground where they are more susceptible to disease.
Q. I have lots of small peppers growing on a dwarf pepper plant. Can you tell me how to dry them for winter use? T. , email
A. Hot peppers are easy to dry. Wait until they turn red for maximum flavor and then harvest from the plant and lay on a screen left outside in the sun. (Bring indoors on cloudy days.) After a few hot days the peppers will be dry and you can string them into wreaths or store them in glass bottles.
Q. Are there any drought-resistant and disease-resistant roses that are native to the United States? I don’t want to water roses all summer and have found that our native plants do well on rainfall alone. S.R., Olympia
A. America has the small pasture rose (rosa carolina) and the prairie rose (rosa setigera) with wild, arching stems but I would recommend the more robust Rosa rugosa as the rose that demands the least amount of care. I do want to make the point that this hardy species rose has plenty of thorns and needs lots of room to grow into a natural thicket.