Clematis, other climbing vines need regular training

Climbing vines are great features in the garden, as long as you monitor and train vines such as clematis on their supports. It’s best to do this on a regular basis to direct the vines where you want them to go. If the vines grow for a few weeks without support, they’ll be hard to reposition.

Keep on planting ... and watering

The planting season seems so short in the Chicago area, but keep in mind that planting can continue through the summer.

Water plants well before planting to minimize stress, particularly when planting in containers.

Plants grown in containers have a well-drained growing medium (potting soil) that will dry more quickly than your garden soil; they’ll need more frequent watering until their roots grow into the surrounding soil.

Newly installed balled-and-burlapped plants need about 1 inch of water a week to get them established; focus on watering the root balls. In my experience, automatic sprinkler systems will not always deliver enough water to plants that were balled-and-burlapped.

Monitor the new plants and provide extra watering with a garden hose as needed. The amount and frequency of watering will vary, depending on the soil conditions in your garden and weather conditions. Sandy, very well-drained soils will dry out more quickly than heavier clay loam soils.

Mow weeds in native areas

Warm June weather fuels strong growth — and that includes weeds. When establishing a new, natural prairie area in your garden, mowing is one way to control weeds.

Staff at the Chicago Botanic Garden have recently been mowing natural areas to help control weeds. In their first years of growth, native plants develop their roots instead of their foliage or flowers, allowing faster growing weeds the opportunity to choke them out. Mowing weedy areas now prevents this. In small areas, weed by hand. You can also carefully “spot spray” weeds with an herbicide.

• Tim Johnson is director of horticulture at Chicago Botanic Garden,

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