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The UConn Home & Garden Education Center (HGEC) is a horticultural informational resource for the citizens of Connecticut and beyond. The staff at the Center reach nearly 400,000 citizens in outreach efforts each year.

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Hibiscus sawfly larvae on hibiscus leaf.


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Thinning Fruit, Smart Harvesting, Night Time Feeders & Other July News

July is for Thinning Fruit, Smart Harvesting & Night Time Feeders

"A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing, and the lawn mower is broken."
- James Dent


Fruit Thinning

Thinning fruit on branch
Photo by Lisa Catalano

Most home gardeners who grow fruit trees know the importance of pruning for better air circulation, pest and disease control and for better quality of fruit.  Thinning fruit early in the growing season is equally important for the same reason.    In addition, it reduces a biannual fruit set.  If fruits are left alone on the branches, the trees will use its carbs to produce all the fruit in one year exhausting its stores to produce fruit the next.

Read More About Fruit Thinning

Smart Harvesting

A bucket of cut flowers and a basket of harvested veggies
Photo by H. Zidack

    July is often the month when we start harvesting vegetables and cut flowers from our gardens! Use these tips to make sure you're getting the most out of your home production.

    Tips for Harvesting Vegetables

    • Harvesting early in the morning will help increase shelf life and may even improve taste.
    • Never tug on your plants - use pruners or scissors to remove stubborn vegetables.
    • Harvesting tomatoes before heavy rains can reduce chances of splitting.
    • Know your vegetables and harvest at the right stage of development! Picking too early or leaving things too long can lead to reduced quality.
    • When harvesting garlic, use a trowel or other garden tool to help you pop the bulbs out of the ground. This allows you to avoid damaging the stem while you're pulling.

    More Tips for Harvesting Vegetables

    Tips for Harvesting Cut Flowers

    • Cut early in the morning when plants are well hydrated.
    • Carry a bucket of fresh, clean, water to collect freshly cut flower stems.
    • Know your plants - different species of flowers may need to be cut at different stages of development.
    • Sanitize buckets and tools (knives, shears or purners) between uses.
    • Make sure cutting tools are sharp so as not to crush vascular tissues when harvesting.
    • Never store flowers in refrigerators that have food in them. Ethylene released by vegetables can speed up the bloom's decline.

    More Tips About Harvesting Cut Flowers

    Night Feeding Garden Pests

    One of the most frustrating things for gardeners is walking through our beds and seeing damage that "wasn't there yesterday!" Many culprits feed at night or in the early evening when we're having dinner and settling down for the day. Learn more about them to help you catch the culprits red handed this summer!

    Asiatic Garden Beetles

    Asiatic Garden Beetle on damaged leaves at night

    These non-native rusty brown scarab beetles feed on plant foliage and flowers at night. Scout with a flashlight to look for them. They can destroy basil plants overnight and may be hiding in mulch or just under the soil surface at the base of plants they are feeding on.


    Earwig damage on leaf

    Earwigs feed on plants and flowers at night and hide during the day where it is dark especially in mulch or under plant containers where they are feeding. Foliage can be sprayed with an appropriate product, so they ingest it when feeding. Do not apply products to flowers.


    Snail on grass

    Slugs can leave shot hole like damage from chewing, and you will often also see trails left from where they have been. They are very active during wet/rainy weather.


    Fawn in the grass

    If deer repellents were used earlier in the year repeat applications now as fawns will be browsing and they may not have been exposed to both desirable plants and effective repellents yet. Teach them when they are young to avoid plants their mothers preferred.


    Rabbit looking through garden fence

    Rabbits can feed day or night, but normally are more active toward evening and nighttime. Favored plants can vary. Cage plants at night that they are eating, or simply throw bird netting over them at night.

    Native Highlight: Coral Hairstreak Butterfly & Native Wood Lily

    Coral Hairstreak butterfly on flower

    The coral hairstreak butterfly flight period coincides with the start of flowering of our native wood lily Lilium philadelphium. These small butterflies are often seen getting nectar on the flowers. Male butterflies also patrol their territory using the flowers as their base of operations. Wood lilies can be found in bloom around July 4th in Connecticut.

    Learn More About Lilium philadelphium

    Learn More About Coral Hairstreak Butterfly

    Vegetable Gardening Resources

    During the growing season, UConn Extension publishes a regular pest alert. Additionally, the New England Vegetable Management Guide offers a lot of information about specific vegetable crops.

    While the target audience for these publications is usually commercial growers, home gardeners can learn a lot from these materials including identification and management of common pests in your veggie gardens!

    If you ever need confirmation on an ID or have additional questions about what you read in these reports, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at the Home & Garden Education Center! We're happy to help your gardens thrive.

    6/28/2024 Vegetable Pest Alert

    Read Previous Pest Messages

    New England Vegetable Management Guide 2023-2024

    UConn Fruit Update

    The UConn Fruit Program publishes a fruit update, very similar to the IPM Vegetable Pest Alert. If you keep fruit trees, this may be a valuable resource for you! If you ever need help understanding how to apply these principles to your own home garden, let us know!

    Read the Latest UConn Fruit Update

    New England Tree Fruit Management Guide

    July 2024 Weather Outlook

    A seasoned gardener always keeps their eye to the sky at any time of year! NOAA's National Weather Service released their discussion about how weather patterns in July will continue to lead us into the growing season!

    July Precipitation Outlook Map July Temperature Outlook Map


    Upcoming Events and Things to Do

      • July is when we often see many local events including local fireman carnivals, farmers markets, and town celebrations.

      Educational Opportunities & Workshops

            • CT Rocks Geology Workshop - July 27th, Hampton, CT

            Upcoming UConn Educational Events

            3rd Annual IPM For Home Gardeners Seminar August 3rd

            UConn IPM For Home Gardeners Seminar 
            Saturday, August 3, 2024
            9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m
            W.B. Young Building
            Storrs, CT

            Register for the IPM Seminar

            CT Invasive Plant Working Group
            In-Person Symposium
            October 29th, 2024
            UConn Student Union
            Storrs, CT


            July Gardening Tips


              • Many plants will shut down temporarily during times of high heat and drought. This can reduce flower/fruit/vegetable production. Check the soil for moisture to avoid overwatering.
              • Do not mow during times of drought, this can damage your turf. Only mow when lawns are actively growing.
              • Squash vine borer moth on LantanaClosely monitor for Squash Vine Borer and Squash bugs on your cucurbits!
              • Check hummingbird feeders for mold, ants and other problems every week. Cane sugar solutions may need more frequent attention. There are some products resistant to mold and nutrient breakdown - please check the label for frequency on these products.
              • Many gardeners will be harvesting fall planted garlic in the month of July. Allow bulbs to cure for a minimum of 2 weeks.
              • Cut back mums, tall asters, Montauk daisies and helianthus by about one-quarter for bushy, more floriferous plants.
              • Pinching back herbs to stop flowering will keep the best flavor in the leaves and encourage branching. Herbs can be air dried, dried quickly in the microwave, or frozen.
              • Sunflower seeds can be sown before mid-June - mid August, depending upon days to maturity on the seed label which can vary from 60 to 110 days. If planted too late, plants will not have time to bloom before OctoberCalibrachoa in planter on a table
              •  Calibrachoa are stunning annuals that are excellent in hanging pots. They are heavy feeders and need moist soil, Watering can be done daily, but make sure not to saturate soils as these plants will succumb readily to root rot, especially in hot weather.


              More July Gardening Tips

              This Month’s Newsletter Contributors: 
              Pamm Cooper, Dr. Nick Goltz, Dawn Pettinelli, Marie Woodward, Heather Zidack 


              Newspaper Articles

              A bed of red coleus surrounded by magenta celosias, and baby pink and purple petunias, complete with a walking path dividing the bed in two. This circular bed is located at the end of Mansfield Road within the University of Connecticut Storrs campus.

              Coleus: A Victorian Dream

              By Abigayle Ward, UConn Dept. of Plant Science & LA Graduate Student

              Red coleus in the middle of a flower garden
              A bed of red coleus surrounded by magenta celosias, and baby pink and purple petunias, complete with a walking path dividing the bed in two. This circular bed is located at the end of Mansfield Road within the University of Connecticut Storrs campus.

              Seen anywhere from great-grandma’s ornamental garden to your neighbor’s hanging basket, coleus are the colorful, velvet-textured leafy cousins of oregano and deadnettle. Native to tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Oceania, it is thought that Dutch botanists introduced the fascinating foliage to Victorian England in the mid 1800s. Coleus were readily welcomed into homes as parlor plants and into ornamental gardens. They were especially coveted in so-called “carpet bedding” gardens, where bedding plants of equal height are used to create colorful designs such that they appear like “carpets” when viewed from above. Other than coleus, the Victorians enjoyed using colorful flowers such as petunias, asters, and zinnias as carpet bedding. Carpet bedding is still popular today; we have at least one such garden featuring coleus and petunias on display at the University of Connecticut Storrs campus. To design a carpet bedding garden, try combining simple shapes and lines to make symmetric, harmonious patterns. Use green vegetation, such as sedums, or even a green cultivar of coleus, to contrast with the bright colors of flowers and the mulch or soil below.

              For those of us lacking yard space comparable to an English country house, a large carpet bed garden might be impractical. Instead, coleus can be planted alongside other flowers for a splash of color in a flower bed against a house or fence. Coleus are the perfect complement to the colorful clapboard siding characteristic of houses in New England – draw attention to the colors of both by putting reds with greens and yellows with purples. If coleus are planted directly into the ground, slugs are one major pest to look out for. In particularly wet summers, such as those in recent years, slug populations can devour entire coleus plants.

              To avoid slugs, container gardens may be a wise option. Sitting above the ground and out of field soil, slugs will have more difficulty reaching the tasty, tender leaves. For those with outdoor space around their apartments, container gardens are also generally a renter-friendly option. Coleus grow well in window boxes and other small containers, and they can help add a warm, friendly atmosphere to the entrance of any home. Most cultivars of coleus available on the market today are tolerant of both shaded and sunny conditions, and thus are well-suited to either covered or open porches. In containers, the main pests to look for are thrips, mealybugs, and aphids. These three pests can cause discoloration in leaves, such as silvery/gold, yellow, or black spots. Outside where predators of these pests thrive, infestations should not progress to the point of killing entire plants, but affected foliage may be unsightly. While systemic insecticides may help keep these types of pests off coleus, they also can kill bees. Avoid applying systemic insecticides to coleus outdoors whenever possible. Try moderately forceful sprays with water instead, insecticidal soap or other least toxic controls.

              The Victorians also kept coleus as houseplants, and so can you. In plant hardiness zones 6a-7b in Connecticut, coleus are very tender annuals. They will grow prolifically when temperatures are above 60°F, and will experience cold injury if temperatures fall below 50°F. When temperatures plunge below 40-50°F and overnight frost becomes a possibility, leaves will start to blacken and die. At the end of the growing season before the first frost, consider planting stem cuttings in pots and bringing them indoors for colorful, year-round foliage. Coleus as houseplants will do best in north-facing or east-facing windows. Avoid placing them in windows where they experience too much direct sunlight for too long during the day. If windows are unavailable, coleus also grow decently under grow lights.

              No matter where they are grown, the main attraction of coleus is its brilliant foliage. Plants grown in containers may benefit from occasional nitrogen additions to keep them growing all season long. Like others in the mint family, coleus grow flower spikes when stressed or when the plant is near the end of its life cycle. While the flowers on the spikes are not very attractive from an aesthetic standpoint, bees, hummingbirds, and other pollinators flock to them. While the spikes can be pruned off if they appear too early in the growing season to encourage further vegetative growth, consider leaving the late-season spikes on, so that bees can collect nectar to sustain their hives over the winter.

              While the selection of coleus cultivars were limited in Victorian England, decades of horticultural breeding efforts have given us access to over 1,000 varieties today, including sun-tolerant cultivars, with endless colors, leaf shapes, sizes, and growth habits. Consider adding this versatile Victorian dream to your home garden for splashes of colorful summer foliage.

              If you have questions on coleus or on other gardening topics, feel free to contact us, toll-free, at the UConn Home & Garden Education Center at (877) 486-6271, visit our website at or contact your local Cooperative Extension center.

              UConn Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

              The UConn IPM program educates growers and the general public about the judicious and safe use of organic and synthetic pesticides and alternative pest control methods. The program incorporates all possible crop management and pest management strategies through knowledgeable decision-making, utilizing the most efficient landscape and on-farm resources, and integrating cultural and biological controls.

              Learn More.

              Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG)

              The mission of the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group is to gather and convey information on the presence, distribution, ecological impacts, and management of invasive species; to promote uses of native or non-invasive ornamental alternatives throughout Connecticut; and to work cooperatively with researchers, conservation organizations, government agencies, green industries, and the general public to identify and manage invasive species pro-actively and effectively.

              Learn more.

              Ticks & Tick Testing

              The two species of ticks most likely to be encountered in Connecticut are the wood or American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis) and the smaller black-legged tick (Ixodes scapularis and Ixodes pacificus) often called the deer tick as white-tailed deer are a favored host. Both carry diseases but it is the black-legged one that can transmit Lyme disease, human babesiosis and human granulocytic anaplasmosis.

              Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory - Tick Testing Options

              Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station-Information on Submitting Ticks

              CAES: Spotted Lanternfly, New Invasive Insect

              The Spotted Lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula (White), an invasive planthopper, was discovered in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014. It is native to China, India, Vietnam, and introduced to Korea where it has become a major pest. This insect attacks many hosts including grapes, apples, stone fruits, and tree of heaven and has the potential to greatly impact the grape, fruit tree, and logging industries. Early detection is vital for the protection of Connecticut businesses and agriculture.

              Learn more.

              Diagnostic Services

              UConn Home and Garden Education Center - PDL icon

              Plant Diagnostic Laboratory

              The UConn Plant Diagnostic Laboratory diagnoses plant problems including diseases, insect pests and abiotic causes.


              Plant Diagnostic Lab

              UConn Home and Garden Education Center - UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Lab icon

              Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory

              The Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory processes about 14,000 soil samples annually. Samples are routinely tested for a variety of major and minor plant nutrients, lead and pH.

              Soil Nutrient Analysis Lab