Jobs to do in the garden in July

Colourful double herbaceous border containing dahlias, echinacea, heleniums, echinops and ornamental grasses with a grass path in between

With borders in full swing, make sure you put your feet up and enjoy them! Image: Dreamstime

Phew! It’s July. Borders are at their peak, but growth is slowing down so you should have time to put your feet up and take some garden notes. Observe what has and hasn’t worked, plants which need dividing and gaps which need filling. Then, after rousing from your recliner to crack on with the ‘Hampton Court Hack’, reward yourself by compiling a greedy wish list of your must-have plants and seeds for next year.


Hanging Baskets and containers

Woman watering a hanging basket

Keep watering and feeding hanging baskets
Image: Canva

  • In the July heat, hanging baskets and containers can dry out extremely quickly and may even need watering twice a day. Even if it rains, water often barely penetrates due to the thick mass of roots and umbrella of foliage cover so they will need a good soaking by hand.
  • The constant watering will flush away nutrients, so it’s important to keep on applying a weekly high-potash feed.
  • Keep on deadheading to stimulate new blooms. Pansies and petunias can begin to look straggly at this time of year, so rather than fiddling about trying to deadhead individual flowers shear them back and feed them to promote a flush of new growth and later flowers.


Hampton Court Hack

close up of two clumps of nepeta in garden border which have been cut down to ground level

This Nepeta (catmint) has been sheared down to the ground and given the ‘Hampton Court Hack’
Image: Annelise Brilli

  • By early July, some of the perennials which flowered earlier can look a bit tired. It’s time to undertake the ‘Hampton Court Hack’, so called because it coincides with the Hampton Court Flower Show. Try it out on Alchemilla mollis, straggly pansies and violas, astrantias, catmint (Nepeta), and hardy geraniums. Simply shear them right down to the ground, followed by a good soak and you’ll be rewarded with fresh new foliage and possibly a second flush of flowers.
  • You can also cut back the all flowered stems of lupins, delphiniums and aquilegias (if you don’t want them to self seed).


Bearded iris

Gardener digging up a clump of iris rhizomes ready for dividing

Divide congested irises this month after they have finished flowering
Image: Dreamstime

  • Divide clumps of bearded iris if they are overgrown. Lift clumps and select the largest, healthiest rhizomes for replanting. Cut each fan of leaves to about 15cm (6”), then replant, firming them in well before watering.


Box Hedging

Low box hedge with brown defoliated leaves caused by box moth caterpillar

Characteristic defoliation on box hedges caused by box moth caterpillar
Image: Canva

  • Box tree moth caterpillar is now widespread and can cause severe damage, even death, very quickly. Use pheromone traps to monitor populations – they can have up to 4 generations each season.  Inspect your box for the caterpillar and either pick off the caterpillars or spray with a contact insecticide if necessary. If box caterpillar is becoming a severe problem in your area, it may be wise to consider alternatives such as yew hedging.


Prune Flowering Shrubs

Close up of white Philadelphus flowers against a blue sky

Early flowering shrubs such as this Philadelphus are pruned this month
Image: Canva

  • Cut back the flowered growth on shrubs that bloom in early summer including Philadelphus, Weigela and Deutzia. Prune them back to strong young shoots lower down. Also remove up to a fifth of the oldest stems to near the base, rejuvenating your shrub by promoting the growth of new, young shoots.
  • After flowering give Helianthemums an all-over trim with a pair of shears, reducing them to neat hummocks which are about 15cm high (6”). This needs to be done every year to promote compact, ground hugging plants which are smothered in flowers.
  • With most other Mediterranean shrubs you need to be more cautious – neither Cistus purpureus or Phlomis fruticosa will tolerate much pruning – but to keep them compact you can lightly trim over the soft green shoots without going into the older, hard wood.


Watering new plants

Keep watering newly planted trees, shrubs and young plants whilst they are still getting established.


Close up of hand holding a lavender cutting

Take lavender cuttings now
Image: Canva

  • Take cuttings from tender plants such as salvias, and Mediterranean herbs like lavender, rosemary and sage, selecting non-flowering stems from the current season’s growth.
  • From now until early autumn, take semi-ripe cuttings from hardy climbers, and evergreen shrubs and hedging plants, selecting growth that has begun to harden at the base.
  • Continue to sow biennials, including flowers for cutting such as wallflowers and Lunaria.
  • Transplant seedlings of biennials sown earlier in the year and give them a good water. Continue to water them regularly.


Summer prune wisteria

Close up of flower racemes of a wisteria

All wisterias require pruning twice a year, once in summer and again in winter
Image: Canva

  • In warm areas of the UK leave this job until August to reduce the amount of regrowth. In cold climates cut back the long whippy shoots now, pruning them back to about five leaves.



Close up of yellow sticky card covered in insects hanging in greenhouse

Pest populations multiply rapidly in hot greenhouses
Image: Canva

  • Greenhouse plants are vulnerable to scorch and heat stress, so open all the vents and doors, use shading and damp down regularly.
  • Put up yellow sticky cards to monitor pests and keep your eye out for infestations of red spider mite, whitefly, mealy bug and scale insects
  • Greenhouse debris can harbour pests and diseases so sweep up any dead leaves and remove dead plants promptly.



Close up of person holding secateurs about to prune a rose branch

Prune once flowering shrub roses after blooming
Image: Canva

  • Keep deadheading your roses, cutting back faded flowers to the first leaf behind the flower.
  • Pick off any leaves affected by blackspot or rust
  • Lightly prune old fashioned, once-flowering shrub roses, ensuring that you don’t spoil their arching habit. Remove any dead, diseased or damaged growth. If there is congested old wood in the centre, remove one or two of these older stems.
  • After flowering, prune back any unwanted or congested growth on rambling roses, tying in new replacement shoots. Prune back the remaining side shoots by two thirds.
  • Keep an eye out for suckers produced below the grafting point – they are usually lighter in colour with green stems and a different number of leaflets. Rather than cutting them, dig down to expose their origin and pull the suckers off.



Close up of wildflower patch with hawkweeds and oxeye daisies

Boost insect populations by letting some wildflowers bloom in the lawn
Image: Canva

  • Help save pollinators and let it grow high in July! Relaxing your mowing regime and setting the blades higher will not only promote stronger growth which is more resilient to drought but will also permit short plants like daisies to flower. See Rewilding the Lawn for more information.
  • If it’s hot and dry the lawn may start to look brown but resist the temptation to splurge water on it as it will simply be wasted through evaporation. Trust that underground roots will enable the grass to recover once rainfall arrives.
  • Apply your last lawn feed at the beginning of this month. Leave it any later and you will promote soft green growth in the autumn which will be vulnerable to pests and winter cold.

Seed Collecting

Close up of dried legume pods which have been opened and seed collected in a tub

Collecting seeds is a fun and economical way of growing plants
Image: Canva

  • Go around your garden (and perhaps your neighbours!) collecting your favourite seeds from hardy annuals and biennials such as poppies, nigella, and foxgloves. Save the little sachets of silica gel which you find in numerous products and place these in an air tight container with your seeds to keep them dry.



close up of dried out pond with exposed butyl liner

If your pond dries out not only will it threaten the survival of pond creatures but it will also expose the liner to damaging UV rays
Image: Canva

  • Ponds can quickly dry up in hot weather so keep it topped up with collected rainwater. If rainwater isn’t available, fill up an empty water butt with tap water and leave it for 24 hours, during which time the chlorine will evaporate.


Rewilding the lawn

This white tailed bumble bee is enjoying selfheal flowers which have spontaneously popped up in an unmown lawn
Image: Plantlife

Which would you choose? A barren desert wasteland? Or a tapestry of wild flowers teaming with insects, mammals and birds?

Lawns are great for leisure and as a foil to colourful planting, but they are also wildlife wastelands. Just 1% of our countryside is species-rich grassland but Plantlife suggests that ‘with 15 million gardens in Britain, our lawns have the potential to become major sources of nectar’, helping to reverse alarming declines in our insect populations and support a host of other wildlife.

Browse our wildflower seeds for inspiration. You don’t have to lose the lawn completely, but here are three ways to allow some wildness into your lawn, starting with the easiest.

1. Make a Small Change to your Mowing Regime

Lawn full of dandelions and daisies

Common species such as dandelions and daisies will cope with some mowing. According to Plantlife, “just 8 dandelion flowers might produce enough nectar sugar to meet an adult bumblebee’s baseline energy needs.”
Image: Plantlife

“Incredibly simple changes in mowing can result in enough nectar for ten times more bees and other pollinators” (Plantlife)

The lawn under your feet has the potential to be a biodiversity hotspot and you only need to do one thing: nothing! You don’t have to stop mowing completely, but try to mix your mowing regime up a bit by following some of the following suggestions:

• Cease mowing just for a few weeks in May and June
• Raise the height of cut or mow less frequently
• Allow just a section of the lawn to grow long and mow the rest


Painted lady butterfly on purple knapweed flower

Long grass allows taller species like Knapweed to flower, attracting butterflies such as this painted lady
Image: Plantlife


Data from Plantlife’s surveys has shown that a mix of short and long grass is ideal. The shorter grass allows plants like daisy, white clover and bird’s-foot trefoil to flower, which can boost nectar production tenfold. Longer grass supports a wider range of plant species, allowing taller plants like oxeye daisies, field scabious and red clover to grow up and bloom. The taller grass also provides food, shelter and nesting habitats for insects.


A wildlife meadow with a close mown path cut through the middle

Allowing some of your grass to grow long doesn’t mean giving up on design. In fact, the contrasting textures of long and short grass can be used to great effect in garden design, with mown areas creating paths, defining areas or carving out shapes
Image: JoeGough, Canva

Every Flower Counts

Two children doing quadrant surveys as part of Every Flower Counts

You never know what exciting species might turn up in your lawn! In 2021 people who took part in No Mow May reported over 250 plant species including rarities such as meadow saxifrage, snake’s-head fritillaries, and wild orchids.  
Image: Plantlife

Every Flower Counts is a citizen science survey organised by Plantlife. The survey aims to provide a snap-shot of which flowers are most abundant on our lawns and how much nectar they are producing. There’s still time to take part – the next survey is from 9 to 17 July. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve mown your lawn or not – Plantlife are keen to know how mowing affects flowering and nectar production, so your results will provide valuable data.

2. Introduce some wildflower plugs into your lawn

Close up of ox-eye daisy flower with a hoverfly on it

By planting wildflower plugs you can increase the wildflower species in your lawn and enjoy showier beauties such as these perennial ox-eye daisies
Image: Plantlife

Once you’ve relaxed your mowing regime, go one step further and introduce some wildflower plugs into your lawn. Plugs can be purchased, or you can sow your own:

  • Sow tiny pinches of wildlife seed directly into modular cells in spring or autumn. Sowing in spring is preferable, as then the plugs will be ready to plant out in your lawn in the autumn, which is the best time for establishment.
  • Skim off patches of grass with your spade and plant about 5 plugs per square metre into these patches, firming and watering them in well.
  • Mark your plug plants with a cane.
  • Keep the grass short around your new plug plants and ensure that they are regularly watered. Be especially vigilant if you are planting in the spring.

Yellow Rattle

Close up of yellow rattle flowers

Yellow rattle (Rhinanthus minor)
Image: Canva

Lawns contain vigorous grasses which compete with wildflower species for moisture, nutrients and light. Tackling this by removing turf and nutrient-rich topsoil is backbreaking work, but a clever and unusual looking plant called yellow rattle can help to do the job for you.

Yellow rattle is an annual wildflower which parasitises grasses, feeding off the nutrients in their roots and weakening them. This allows wildflowers and finer grasses to thrive.

Sowing your own yellow rattle can be tricky, because, for good germination, you need to get hold of fresh seed. However, I’ve had success with yellow rattle plugs which can be ordered now ready for spring planting. Plant these out as described above and avoid mowing until mid-July/August. By this time, the dried seed pods will rattle when shaken, scattering seed over the lawn to establish spreading colonies the following year.

3. Sow a mini-meadow

A meadow in the sunset

Image: Canva

This is the most labour-intensive method of re-wilding your lawn but will establish a wide diversity of species within one season. Whilst it may not be an option for the whole of your lawn, why not try it for just a section?

Choose an open, sunny area which is free of pernicious weeds such as nettle and thistles and preferably a site with nutrient-poor soil. Rich soil will promote the growth of vigorous weeds and grasses which will outcompete the wildflowers.
The best time is August – September. Alternatively, March-April.
For a perennial meadow which comes up year after year with little maintenance, the seed mix should include mostly perennial (not annual) wildflowers, plus some fine meadow grasses.
Choose a mixture which is suited to your soil type and your locality. It’s a good idea to get out into nearby countryside and familiarise yourself with the wildflowers growing in your area.

  • Remove the turf and about 3-6” (7-15cm) of top soil.
  • Dig over or rotovate the soil to create a fine tilth, removing any weeds
  • Scatter the seed at the recommended rate. As the seed needs to be spread very thinly, it’s useful to mix it with a carrier such as sand or bran, at a ratio of three-five parts sand to one of seed. Rake over gently and tread the seed into the soil.
  • Water in well.


  • Continue to keep the area well-watered
  • Dig out any pernicious weeds which appear such as nettles, docks or thistles.
  • Cut from late July onwards when the seeds have ripened. Choose a dry day and allow the cuttings to drop, leaving them to dry for a week before raking them up and removing all debris.
  • Mow again in the autumn and in early spring of the following year if the grass has grown long. Avoid mowing April to late July.

“Because many insects need little space to survive, even partial conversion of lawns to minimally disturbed natural vegetation—say 10%—could significantly aid insect conservation”

(PNAS Jan 21 “Eight simple actions that individuals can take to save insects from global declines)

Tortoiseshell butterflies feeding on wild Scabious flowers

Tortoiseshell butterflies find these nectar-rich scabious flowers irresistible
Image: Canva

Wilding up even a small part of your lawn can lead to exciting results, and it doesn’t need to be hard work. I made my own mini-meadow by reducing mowing and planting in wildflower plugs. It has been fascinating to see what has popped up in the lawn – selfheal, hawkbits and scarlet pimpernel have all arrived spontaneously. My mini-meadow is a little wildlife haven: bumblebees heavy with pollen forage on the knapweed, damselflies rest delicately on tall grass blades, froglets hide in the cool damp shelter whilst twittering goldfinches feast off seeds.

Since the 1930s, we have lost nearly 7.5 million acres of flower-rich meadows, but as gardeners, we can make a significant contribution to reversing this loss of habitat. So go on! Unlock the potential of your lawn and let a little wildness in. Visit our lawn care hub for more helpful gardening articles. Find all of our top wildflower resources, full of sowing and growing tips, in one place at our wildflower hub page.

The Best Plants for June

close up of a cottage garden border with roses, alliums, and iris

Image: Canva

In June the garden bursts into an extravagance of flowers and it’s almost impossible to choose amongst them, but here are five of my perennial favourites.

Peony ‘Pastel Splendour’

Peony 'Pastel Splendor' plants | Thompson & Morgan

Peony ‘Pastel Splendor’
Image: Thompson & Morgan

Surrounded by the devastating aftermath of the Second World War, a Japanese botanist called Dr Toichi Itoh refused to be defeated. In 1948, after thousands of failed attempts, he finally achieved what was thought to be impossible: a cross between a tree peony and a herbaceous peony. Sadly, Dr Itoh died before he saw his miraculous seedlings flower, but he handed down a precious legacy to other horticulturists who went on to develop the spectacular peonies named after him.

Itoh peonies, (otherwise known as Intersectional hybrids) combine the best qualities of tree peonies and herbaceous peonies. Like herbaceous peonies, they form dense mounds of large and deeply divided foliage but beneath this lush canopy is a sturdy armature of woody branches which effortlessly hold onto their heavy flowers without any need for staking. The plants are generous in bud, producing enormous, deeply bowl-shaped, mostly semi-double flowers. Not only do they have the widest colour range amongst peonies, but they are often deliciously scented. Flowering from late June, plants bloom for much longer than other peonies, continuing for up to 4 weeks, with each sterile bloom lasting for up to 5 days. Itoh peonies are also much less susceptible to slug damage and highly resistant to peony blight.

This combination does come at a price. Itoh peonies are expensive because producing them is a difficult and lengthy process, but they represent a truly worthwhile investment. Long-lived and low-maintenance, not requiring staking, fertilising or division – they will thrive in any moist but well-drained soil in a position in full sun. In late winter, simply prune them back to a few centimetres above the ground, cutting down to any visible buds.

Peony ‘Pastel Splendour’ has the looks of a gigantic oriental poppy, its semi-double flowers studded with a central ball of creamy stamens. In common with many other Itoh peonies, the flower change colour as they mature – opening a pink-flushed cream with deep raspberry blotches then morphing through deeper pink and apricot. Simply stunning! Height and Spread: Up to 90cm (35.4”).


Salvia ‘Fashionista® Moulin Rouge’


Close up of hooded pink flowers of Salvia 'Moulin Rouge'

Salvia ‘Moulin Rouge’
Image: Walter Blom/Visions

Over the past decade salvias have become extremely fashionable plants and tender varieties which were once rarely seen are now widely grown. Their popularity has coincided with an increasingly drier climate and once established they are invaluable for their ability to stand up against summer droughts. Their popularity has spawned a wave of new cultivars, and ‘Moulin Rouge’ is one of the best new hardy pink varieties, distinguished by the especially large size of its individual rosy flowers which buzz with bees all summer.  Height : 60cm (24”). Spread: 56cm (22”).

Cistus x pulverulentus ‘Sunset’

Close up of hot pink cistus flowers with golden stamens

Cistus x pulverulentus ‘Sunset’
Image: De Nolf

These early summer shrubs are so rewarding and easy to grow, unfurling their tissue-paper-like flowers in hot, dry borders from June through summer. Some cistus can grow very large and sprawling, but Cistus ‘Sunset’ is one of the more compact varieties and well-suited to smaller gardens. The smallish flowers, about 5cm across, make up for their size with their shocking, hot pink colour. Height: 60cm (24″). Spread: 90cm (36″).

Poppy ‘Beauty of Livermere’

Poppy ‘Beauty of Livermere’
Image: Shutterstock

‘Beauty of Livermere’ was the first flower to entrance me as a child in my mum’s garden and it continues to do so. I love watching the plump, hairy buds just breaking to give a tantalising glimpse of their creped crimson petals before bursting open into a dramatic design of silky scarlet with ebony blotches. Plant them in freely draining soil in full sun in the middle of the border. After flowering the foliage dies back and the plant goes summer dormant, an adaptation which enables them to cope with summer droughts in their native Central Asia. At this point, cut all the foliage down to the ground and allow the surrounding perennials to grow up around them – for this reason never plant them in the foreground of a border as they will leave an unsightly hole after flowering. Height: 90cm (35″). Spread: 60cm (24″).

Geranium ‘Plenum Violaceum’

Geranium ‘Plenum Violaceum’
Image: Garden World Images

For sheer versatility, you can’t beat hardy geraniums and there is one for every situation – from low ground cover in dry shady spots to the back of sunny borders. Their ability to thread through other plants creates that much sought-after tapestry effect which is a signature of the most successful flower borders. Most varieties have single flowers but ‘Plenum Violaceum’ is striking for its exquisite rosettes of rich violet blooms which resemble miniature roses held above a mound of finely divided leaves. Height: 60cm (24″). Spread: 45cm (18″).

If you’ve been inspired by Annelise’s June selection, head over to our summer flowers hub page for more ideas to bring your garden to life this summer.

Jobs to do in the garden in June

Naturalistic cottage garden style border with gravel paths between argyrathemums, angels fishing rods, delphiniums, foxgloves and yellow achilleas In June the garden is at its freshest. It’s time to sit back and enjoy long summer evenings surrounded by abundant flowers and lush foliage whilst surveying the results of all your work earlier in the year.

If you worked hard in May, you should already have crossed many of June’s jobs off your list!

Summer Bedding plants

Close up of flower spike of Salvia 'Pink Amistad'. Two-lipped flowers, deep magenta in bud opening to pale pink with contrasting dark calyx.

Bedding isn’t just begonias. Experiment with exciting plant combinations using new salvias such as this Chelsea Winner ‘Pink Amistad’ as your focal plant
Image: Newey Plants

If you haven’t got your bedding plants yet, do it quickly now. Hop over to our Bedding plants hub and get your containers and baskets planted up.

You may not think of yourself as a ‘traditional bedding’ type person – but ‘bedding’ isn’t all frilly petunias and blousy begonias. The range of bedding varieties is vast – there is something to suit all tastes and the exciting opportunity to come up with your own creative plant combinations.

When planting up summer containers, swap petunias for the more delicate calibrachoas, such as ‘Apricot Shades’ and combine them with other elegant trailing plants such as Verbena ‘Samira Pink Wing’. Then for an upright focal point try one of the new dazzling salvias such as Salvia ‘Pink Amistad’. Winner of third place in this year’s Chelsea Plant of the Year Award, ‘Pink Amistad’ is a cousin of the best-selling ‘Amistad’.

These salvias simply flower their socks off all summer. Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’ and ‘Royal Bumble’ are my other two favourites. Once it gets going, my Salvia ‘Royal Bumble’ is densely covered in bright scarlet flowers all summer into late autumn, even in a partially shaded position and in my mild Southern climate I have found that it will stand the winter in a sheltered position in a pot. For real wow factor, combine the intense colours of these salvias with the sculptural deep purple foliage of Aeonium ‘Tip Top’.

Instead of thinking of boring rows of ‘Summer bedding,’ treat these temporary plants as clever gap fillers. Nicotianas, rudbeckias and osteospermums are excellent candidates as they all blend easily with other perennials. Plant them out closely as they only have a few months growing time and be sure to water them well before and after planting.

Tender plants and shrubs

Close up of orange citrus tree in pot

Stand your citrus on the patio in a sunny sheltered spot, give them a high nitrogen feed and progressively pinch out the soft growing tips to keep them bushy.
Image: Canva

Wherever you live, it should be safe to put outside all your tender plants such as cannas, cymbidium and lilies. You can also bring out your citrus trees and enjoy their delicious scented flowers on the patio.


It’s too late to establish shrubs in borders now, best to wait until autumn, but you can introduce new containerised shrubs. In north-facing, lightly shaded areas of your patio, provide a backdrop of lush foliage and pale illuminating flowers with hydrangeas, fuchsias and acers. In sunny areas, choose long-flowering shrubs such as Hibiscus syriacus and French lavender (Lavandula stoechas).

Pest control

Close up of Cirscium rivulare flowerhead with stem covered in ants and aphids

Black aphids are busy being herded by ants on my Cirsium rivulare. The ants ‘milk’ the aphids for the sugary ‘honeydew’ which they secrete, whilst protecting the aphids from predators such as ladybirds.
Image: Annelise Brilli

Pests are really on the march now so be vigilant. Check lilies for lily beetles, watch out for vine weevil notches on the edges of leaves and aphids on the soft tips of stems.

Be responsible and protect our declining insect populations. Avoid the use of chemical pesticides and use formulas which work by physical means instead such as RHS Bug & Mildew Control. These contain vegetable oils, animal oils and soaps, collectively referred to as ‘surfactants’, which smother the insects rather than poisoning them. These need to be applied regularly but there is no build up of chemicals or harvest interval. These organic sprays also contain nutrients such as magnesium, iron and manganese which promote healthy plant growth.

Evergreen hedges

It’s time to get the hedge trimmers out.
Image: Canva

Box, privet, and western red cedar (Thuja plicata) can be pruned now and usually will need pruning again in August/September. Don’t hard prune Thuja plicata back to old wood as it doesn’t recover well and will leave unsightly bald patches. Be sure to check for nesting birds before you start trimming your hedges.

Watering & water conservation

Close up of watering tray with tray of seedlings in it and watering can beside

Large watering trays are invaluable for avoiding wasted run-off when watering pots and trays
Image: Annelise Brilli

Keep watering all your new young plants, bearing in mind that trees and shrubs normally require two growing seasons before their root systems are fully established.

Our weather is becoming increasingly drier so do everything you can to conserve water.

  • Avoid bare ground and use ground cover plants to cover it. Ground cover doesn’t need to be drab. Recently featured on the BBC’s ‘RHS Chelsea Flower Show’, Geranium ‘Intense’ is a stunning new geranium with the most intense, deep magenta flowers on a very low plant – an unusual combination for hardy geraniums. Geranium ‘Intense’ will flower happily in partial shade and its semi-evergreen foliage continues to provide ground cover throughout the season as well as gorgeous red tinted leaves in the autumn.
  • If you find that your perennials are suffering in dry weather get planning and make a list of more drought tolerant plants to introduce next year.
  • Continue to apply mulches wherever you have bare soil on borders. Cover pots with a layer of grit.
  • Invest in water butts and drip irrigation systems. The more water butts the better. Your plants will be much happier with rainwater which has a lower pH than tap water and none of the chemical residues. Acid loving containerised plants such as rhododendrons can become starved of nutrients when constantly watered with hard tap water.


  • Deadheading makes a huge difference to the length of flowering so keep at it. Use secateurs to cut back to a strong pair of buds or shears to trim over mound-forming plants such as geraniums after they have finished flowering – you may get a second flush. Constantly pinch out the spent flowers of summer bedding and pick sweet peas every day before they have the chance to form any pods.
  • The flower spikes of delphiniums, lupins and foxgloves should be cut right down. You may get more flowers but even if you don’t this cutting down will benefit the longevity of the plant.

Rhododendrons and Camellias

  • Remove the fading flowers from rhododendrons and camellias taking care not to damage the new leaf buds which are developing just behind the faded flowers – pinch them out between finger and thumb.



Being lazy at weeding does have its benefits! These Welsh Poppies (Papaver cambrica) have colonised un-weeded cracks in my paving
Image: Annelise Brilli

Weeds have put on a surge of growth and are now competing with your treasured ornamentals. It’s important to keep on top of them and essential to pull them out before they self-seed. However, remember that although this is a priority job it isn’t an urgent one. You have a longer window of opportunity to do this task so don’t prioritise weeding over and above jobs which are more time critical such as getting supports in to rescue plants on the edge of collapse or planting bedding.

Don’t be so ruthless with your weeding that you obliterate the possibility of self-sown seedlings. It is really worth introducing some hardy annuals and biennials into your garden (see propagation) and allowing them to pop up by themselves each year. Learn to recognise the seedlings. They will self-select their preferred locations, colonising awkward gaps, crevices and path edges where it is difficult to establish plants, and dotting about to create a relaxed rhythm and feeling of maturity to the garden.


Whatever nature gives you, use it! Composting isn’t just for vegetable growers and allotments – it should be a cornerstone of your gardening practice. Composting not only provides a free, nutrient-rich soil improver and mulch but avoids green waste going to landfill. Traditional wooden compost bins are a cheap method, although require a lot of space. For small gardens, consider investing in a Hotbin Composter. It will compost waste within 30-90 days, can take cooked food waste and requires no turning.


Close up of hands holding secateurs and dead-heading roses

Keep dead-heading your roses
Image: Canva

  • Roses are at their peak and flowering prolifically. Keep dead-heading repeat flowering varieties, using sharp secateurs to cut back to the first leaf behind the flower. If you’re brave you can simply snap off the flowers at their natural breakage point but make sure you wear gloves.
  • Keep an eye out for suckers produced below the grafting point – they are usually lighter in colour with green stems and a different number of leaflets. Rather than cutting it off, dig down to expose its origin and pull the sucker off.
  • Climbing roses, and especially ramblers, produce long and lethal whippy shoots at this time of the year which can catch you unawares when walking past. Keep them tied in or remove misplaced ones.


  • Continue staking your plants as strong winds and rains at this time of the year can quickly flatten them. If you want to reduce the staking needs of your more boisterous perennials it might be time to try the Chelsea Chop (see below).

Chelsea Chop

  • You have a couple more weeks to have a go at the Chelsea Chop, although don’t try it out on perennials which have already produced flower buds – you are too late.
  • This pruning technique will produce plants with shorter, self-supporting stems and more (but usually smaller) flowers. Not all perennials will respond to this treatment but those which do include: Asters, Echinacea (coneflower), Helianthus x laetiflorus (perennial sunflower), Hylotelephium (Sedum), Monarda (Bergamot), Nepeta (Catmint), Phlox and Rudbeckia. The results can vary depending on the species and your microclimate – if you’re nervous just experiment with chopping down a portion of your plant and judge by the results.


Close up of flower spikes of pink hollyhocks

Hollyhocks can be sown now
Image: Canva

  • Annuals: Early June is your last chance to direct sow fast-growing hardy annuals such as Clarkia, Godetia, Candytuft, Calendula and nasturtium. Hardy annuals sown earlier should now be rigorously thinned out.
  • Biennials: As last month, sow biennials now into open ground or small trays/pots ready for planting out in the autumn. Try Lunaria annua, Canterbury bells, foxgloves, wall flowers and forget me nots.
  • Perennials: Sow perennials such as aquilegia, lupins, delphiniums and hollyhocks.
  • Sow winter and early spring flowers such as pansies and polyanthus.
  • Continue to take softwood cuttings of perennials and shrubs. Pull off the non-flowering stems of pinks (Dianthus) to make cuttings about 5-7.5cm (2-3in) long, removing the leaves from the bottom third. Put them in a gritty compost and they should root within 3-4 weeks.


  • If you are aiming for a neat, tight sward, continue to mow at least once but preferably twice a week whilst reducing the height of cut in prolonged dry spells. Edge the beds every week to keep them tidy and prevent grass from growing into them. If the lawn is looking tired, apply a summer feed, preferably using an organic formula such as Viano Lawn Boost.
  • Keep watering any new turf which you laid earlier in the year.


close up of pink water lily floating on pond surface

Introduce new water lilies into your pond
Image: Canva

  • Floating pond plants are now in full growth and available to buy. The water has warmed up and it’s time to introduce new specimens.
  • Continue to remove duck weed by gently raking it off.


Cut down faded foliage of earlier flowering spring bulbs such as daffodils, allowing them 6 weeks after flowering. Also lift and divide any congested bulbs.

Oriental Poppies

Close up of Papaver 'Patty's Plum'

Oriental poppies such as this ‘Patty’s Plum’ will become brown and tatty after flowering.
Image: Canva

Once oriental poppies have finished flowering the foliage dies back and they look tatty. Cut them right back to the ground, not just the flower stems but all the foliage too. Fresh new foliage will appear and sometimes a second round of smaller flowers.

Euphorbias and early perennials

Close up of person with secateurs cutting out old Euphorbia stems to the base

Cut out the old flowered stems of Euphorbias such as this Euphorbia characias
Image: Annelise Brilli

  • Tidy up all your spring flowering perennials, removing tired, mildewed foliage. If you didn’t do it last month, this is the time to lift and divide any early spring flowerers such as Brunnera, Pulmonaria and primulas.
  • All evergreen euphorbias such as Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae, Euphorbia characias and Euphorbia x martini should be pruned now. Once the yellow bracts have faded, cut all the flowered stems right back, leaving young new stems to flower next year. Use gloves as the milky sap is a skin and eye irritant. Be especially careful with large Euphorbia characias plants as you will need to bend down into the plant and will get covered in dripping sap – long sleeves are essential.


Deutzias are gracefully arching shrubs which don’t have to be pruned every year but over time can become a mass of tangled, old stems
Image: Canva

  • Late spring/early summer flowering shrubs such as Deutzia, Kolkwitzia, Philadelphus and Weigela can be pruned after flowering. Remove dead or damaged growth and cut out one in three of the oldest stems, being careful as you remove them to avoid damaging the remaining stems.
  • Old lilacs can become leggy over time but respond very well to renovation pruning, producing plenty of new shoots when pruned back to a low base. However, you may need to wait until the second year until they flower again.



Close up of potting bench covered in houseplants in terracotta pots with secateurs and gloves ready for potting up

Houseplants are now actively growing and can be potted up if pot-bound
Image: Canva

  • Treat your houseplants to a summer holiday! Placing your houseplants outdoors for the summer has numerous benefits. Wind and rain remove dust from the leaves and plants will enjoy higher light and humidity levels. When taking them outdoors, acclimatise them slowly to outdoor conditions and light levels, placing them in a shady, sheltered position. Houseplants can quickly scorch when placed in bright outdoor light. Leave hairy plants such as African violets indoors, as they don’t appreciate water on their leaves.
  • If any houseplants are becoming severely pot bound with roots poking through the holes of their pot, then you should pot them up now whilst they are in active growth.




Fairytale Foxgloves

Blurry close up of foxgloves in golden sunset lighting

Image: Canva

There has long been an association between fairies and foxgloves. Folklore says that fairies gave the flowers to foxes to wear on their paws so they could tread silently when hunting. There is certainly something magical about their slender spires and they make excellent border plants, lending both romance and an airy architecture to gardens as well as providing ample food for bees. Seed sown in May/June will provide foxglove flowers next year. Or buy established plants now for instant impact this season. 

Foxgloves in the Wild

A colony of purple coloured wild foxgloves with farmland and hills in distance

Wild foxgloves are ‘edge’ plants growing in hedgerows, woodland edges and glades
Image: Canva

The wild foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, is instantly recognisable and probably one of the first flowers we learn in childhood. It has been christened with a variety of playful names: witches’ gloves, bee catchers, dead men’s thimbles, floppy dock, tod-tails and fairy bells. Although fairies are associated with woodland, foxgloves are inhabitants of woodland edges, heaths and hedgerows, preferring dappled light to deep shade. However, they will grow in full sun, providing the soil is moist and humus-rich. They naturally thrive in acid soils but will tolerate a wide pH range.

Digitalis purpurea is a biennial or occasionally a short-lived perennial, producing a rosette of downy leaves in its first year and then a flower spike in the following one. Foxglove cultivars derived from the wild form are also biennial, although if the flower stem is removed before setting seed the plant may survive another season. It will also produce secondary, smaller flower spikes.

Foxgloves in the border

Why grow foxgloves? Foxgloves are nostalgic plants which instantly create a relaxed, cottage garden mood. They associate beautifully with other cottage garden plants such as ferns, campanulas, geraniums and roses. Most perennials are mound-forming, so foxgloves are one of those useful plants which create vertical accents and break up monotony. Their airy spires add a lightness of touch to the heavier, solid forms of background shrubs. Light coloured varieties are also excellent for illuminating shady spots. They are best placed in the middle or back of borders and look particularly stunning when planted in groups.

Quick guide to growing foxgloves

  • Longevity: Most garden foxgloves are biennial (occasionally short-lived perennials).
  • Hardiness: Biennial species are fully hardy.
  • Soil: Unfussy but ideally free draining soil which is moisture retentive and rich in organic matter. Particularly thrive in acidic soils but will grow in a wide pH.
  • Flowering time: May to September with peak in June.
  • Water: Enjoy plenty of moisture. Plants grown in very dry positions may end up stunted. Water well after planting until established.
  • Sun: Dappled shade, although will grow in full sun if the soil is moist.
  • Aftercare: After flowering, if seed isn’t required, cut back the main flower spike right down to the base. This will promote flowering side shoots and encourage normally biennial species to survive another year.
  • Problems: Protect small seedlings from slugs and snails. Mature plants can be affected by powdery mildew after flowering but will normally recover on their own.
  • Toxicity: Highly toxic


Best Foxglove cultivars

Foxglove ‘Dalmatian Mixed’

Close up of deep pink and light pink flowers of Foxglove Dalmatian Series

Foxglove Dalmatian Series
Image: Dreamstime

Unlike other cultivars, the Dalmatian series will typically bloom in its first year. They make quite compact, well branching plants about 50-75cm tall Their short stature makes them more suitable for containers.

They come in a wide, mixed colour range and single coloured varieties are also available: Dalmatian WhiteDalmatian Peach’, ‘Dalmatian Cream’ and ‘Dalmatian Purple’.

Candy Series

Foxglove ‘Candy Mountain’
Image: Sahin

Raised by Thompson and Morgan, the Candy series are particularly showy foxgloves and the first with upward facing flowers. The dark pink buds open to reveal rose-pink blooms with freckled throats which are densely packed all the way round their sturdy stems. Up to 140cm high, they are tall plants for the back of the border and look stunning in drifts. 

Camelot Series

Foxglove ‘Camelot Rose’
Image: Goldsmith

The Camelot series is another tall foxglove, reaching up to 150cm with the flowers packed all around the stem. It has a wide range of gorgeous colours from lavender, cream, rose and white, all with heavily spotted throats.

Foxglove ‘Alba’

Foxglove ‘Alba’
Image: Thompson & Morgan

These tall, pure white foxgloves were popularised by Gertrude Jekyll who advised using them to lighten shady corners. Bees cannot see white flowers and therefore they are less frequently pollinated.

White flowered foxgloves can be distinguished from coloured ones by examining the midrib on the underside of the leaf. In white forms the midrib is green, in coloured ones it is purple.

‘Pam’s choice’ and ‘Pam’s Split’

Close up of white foxglove flowers with maroon markings. In Pam's Split the tube or corolla is split.

‘Pam’s Choice’ left and ‘Pam’s Split’ right.
Image: Sahin

This rogue seedling was found on a compost heap! It’s an eye-catching specimen with tall spires of large white flowers distinguished by their dark maroon throats. ‘Pam’s Split’ is another sport with very unusual split petals.

Foxglove Illumination Series

Foxglove ‘Illumination Flame’
Image: Thompson & Morgan

The Illumination series has transformed this cottage garden staple into something distinctly more exotic. Bred by Thompson and Morgan they are a cross between the Canary Island foxglove, Digitalis canariensis (formerly Isoplexis canariensis) and our native foxglove. The resulting plants have inherited the vibrant deep pinks and apricots of their Canary Island relatives. They are striking plants which due to their sterile flowers will flower continuously for several months. They do need a sheltered well-drained position to survive the winter as they are half-hardy.

How to grow foxgloves

Established plants – Will flower this year and then die. Allowing some to go to seed will provide future flowers in their second year.

Plug Plants – Will flower in their second year. Saves on the effort of seed sowing. Plant them out for 2 years running to ensure continuous flowers every year from self-seeded plants.

Growing foxgloves from seed

When to sow: May-June

This will produce seedlings which are mature enough to get through their first winter.

Some varieties, some as ‘Dalmatian Series’, will flower in their first year and therefore it is advisable to sow them earlier in March/April. Perennial foxgloves can also be sown at this time.

How to sow foxglove seed

  • Unless you have an acre of garden or thousands of friends, stick to half or mini seed trays. This will provide you with plenty of seedlings.
  • Foxglove seed is tiny. Use a fine seed compost – sieving it if necessary.
  • Try to get the surface as flat as possible. A tamper is an invaluable tool for this.
  • Either water the compost before sowing or use a fine rose on your watering can – otherwise your seeds will get washed away.
  • Don’t use the whole packet of seed! Try to sow sparingly and evenly so the seedlings won’t be jammed together.
  • Don’t cover the seed. It is tiny and it needs light to germinate.
  • Create a humid environment – place the tray inside a clear plastic bag or cover with a piece of glass/clear plastic.
  • Place the seed trays in bright light somewhere warm but not hot.
  • Don’t let them dry out!
  • Once seedlings are large enough, prick them out into 9cm pots or modules.
  • Plant out into their final positions in the autumn.

Direct Sowing

Foxgloves can also be sown direct into an area of cleared ground which has been raked to a fine tilth. Scatter the seed over the surface, lightly rake and water in afterwards using a fine rose. Progressively thin seedlings to eventual spacing of 45-60cm


Tray of foxglove seedlings

Learn to recognise foxglove seedlings
Image: Corinne Brown

Foxgloves are prolific self-seeders – the dried-out flower spike is flexible and light and easily blown about, launching millions of tiny seeds to be carried in the wind. Allowing at least some of your plants to go to seed ensures a continuity of display for minimal effort. If you are sowing foxglove seeds or planting plugs for the first time, remember that as they are biennial you will need to plant them for two consecutive years to get  self-sown flowers every year without a gap in blooming.

If you want to collect your seeds and sow them indoors you can do this as soon as they are ripe in August. However, this may result in seedlings which are too small to plant out in autumn and therefore they will need to be overwintered in a frost free place. Alternatively, wait until the spring.

Learn to recognise self-sown seedlings and in the spring carefully transplant them into ideal positions. They have fragile, fibrous root systems which like to grow sideways rather than downwards in order to support their vertical flower stems. Once disturbed they are prone to toppling over and drying out. Transplant them in cool, shady weather and if possible, lift them with a substantial amount of soil attached to the root. Water them well both before and after transplanting and firm them in gently but firmly. Continue to water them each week until they are established.

Bear in mind that small foxglove seedlings will grow into substantial rosettes so allow 45cm-60cm between them.

Foxgloves and Bees

Close up of bumble bee approaching foxglove flower

Bumblebees often approach foxgloves flowers with their long tongues hanging out
Image: Canva

“Foxglove, Foxglove,
What do you see?”
The cool green woodland,
The fat velvet bee;
Hey, Mr Bumble,
I’ve honey here for thee!

by Cicely Mary Barker

Watching bees disappear into foxglove flowers and bumble about noisily is an additional joy to growing foxgloves and they make excellent wildlife plants.

Foxgloves have numerous adaptations to ensure pollination. The violet colours of foxglove flowers are especially visible to bees. Often growing in colonies and with multiple flowers on a stem, a stand of foxgloves forms a purple haze which can’t be missed by passing bees. Moreover, their tall flower spikes poke above surrounding vegetation so they can be easily spotted.

close up of mouth of foxglove flower showing small white guard hairs at entrance

Guard hairs at the entrance of the flower
Image: Canva

They have evolved to be pollinated by long-tongued bees – the petals are fused into a long tunnel with its nectar reward hard to reach at the base of the flower. Guided into the flower by its spots, the large lower lip provides a convenient landing pad and the wide mouth a welcoming entrance. Guard hairs at the entrance give the bee a firm foothold as it squeezes down the narrowing tunnel, closing its wings and pressing its body against the reproductive parts on the roof, where it both picks up pollen from the male anthers and brushes pollen from other flowers onto the female stigma. The same guard hairs deter smaller insects which could raid the nectar without brushing against the reproductive parts. To prevent self-pollination, the male anthers open first releasing pollen and are exhausted by the time the female parts become receptive.

The flowers open from the bottom up, the top of the flower spike continuing to produce flowers over numerous weeks until it is exhausted. This lengthy flowering period maximises opportunities for pollination and acts as an insurance against spells of bad weather when insects aren’t flying.

Foxgloves:  poison and cure

Eighteenth century engraving of William Withering seated holding a foxglove flower

William Withering clutching a foxglove flower
After Carl Frederik von Breda, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


All parts of the foxglove are poisonous and can cause abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting and ultimately death from heart attack. For centuries, it was widely used as a herbal cure against dropsy (the build-up of fluid in body tissue), although often with fatal results. In the eighteenth century a botanist and physician called William Withering discovered that foxgloves could be used as a treatment for heart failure and his insistence on accurate and disciplined dosing pioneered the development of modern pharmacology from herbal medicine.

Critical shortages of drugs during the second world war led to the establishment of County Herb Committee, a medicinal plant collecting scheme set up by the British Ministry of Health. Tonnes of foxglove leaves were collected and dried for the war effort, as Lesley Gare records:

I was eleven when the war broke out in September 1939, and was at school in a village called Ingatestone in Essex…… The grounds of the school contained large numbers of foxglove (Digitalis) plants and we were given the use of an old stable to dry the leaves before they could be sent to a drug manufacturer. We used to string the leaves using a bodkin to thread the leaves onto the pieces of string, which were hung the length of the stable to dry in the air. 

The active ingredient in Foxglove continues to be used in modern medicine as a heart stimulant.

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about foxgloves. Have a look at our full foxglove selection and visit our summer flowers hub page for advice and top tips on making the most of your garden this summer.


Pin It on Pinterest