Prune azaleas now for buds next spring
June is the last month to safely prune azalea bushes if you want flowers next spring. Fertilize your azaleas four times a year (August, November, February, May) with fertilizer for acid-loving plants.
Before vacation, prep the plants
While you're away this summer, ask someone to check on your plants. Set outdoor containers in a shady spot. Potted plants may be placed in the ground up to the rim of the container, then thickly mulched. Place indoor plants in indirect light — not bright sun, where they'll dry out, nor in the dark, where leaves will drop. Soak houseplants thoroughly just before you leave and they should be fine for two weeks. If you'll be gone longer, sink the pots outside in a cool, shaded bed.
Tomatoes that take the heat
As the evening temperatures rise to 70 degrees and above, most tomatoes will fade. There are some container varieties that will produce most of the summer, heat notwithstanding. Growing your own should allay concerns about the salmonella scare, even though no Florida tomatoes have been linked to the outbreak. The varieties best suited for Florida are Florida basket, Florida petite, Florida lanai, patio, cherry and sweet 100s.
Need a facelift? Add flat of flowers
Make a monthly visit to the garden center to see what's new and in bloom. Spring plants may be fading in the heat, so look around at what thrives in heat and sun and give the garden a boost. Go again a month from now. You'll have continuous color and the garden won't look so static.
Grubby time is as good as gym time
Three hours of gardening burns about the same number of calories (600 to 700) as one hour in the gym. An hour of shoveling, mowing and pruning equals jogging 4 miles, says British garden designer Bunny Guinness. Gardening involves prolonged expenditure of energy, as opposed to shorter bursts of intense aerobic activity. That means you burn more fat than carbs, which is better for weight loss. Find more tips in Garden Your Way to Health and Fitness by Guinness and Jacqueline Knox (Timber Press, $19.95).
Compiled by Times Homes and Garden editor Judy Stark