UGUST Do you hide in August? I garden in August, as I do every month of the year, but I plan carefully when I go outside. August heat can be brutal! I’m not likely to go out into the garden after 10 in the morning during August or before 10 in January. My internal clock wants to be in the garden by 7:00 AM every day of the year, but winter temperatures tempers me. If I start in the garden earlier in the morning, I can stay until about 2:000. You can forget it between 2 – 6. Nope, no way. I can tour gardens during that time, although my pictures bite when the sun is at those angles.
Lantana, salvias, phlox, ruella, coneflowers, milkweeds, plus annuals are blooming their full heads off, especially the zinnias!
Deadhead flowers. Keep your flowers blooming longer by removing faded blossoms from your cannas, roses, daisies and more. As for the seed plants, such as black-eyed Susans, phlox, and coneflower, leave the flower heads for the birds. Once the birds have picked them through, it’s time to deadhead.
Roses can be propagated by layering as late as mid-August. Long, flexible canes are the easiest to propagate because they bend freely into place. Use a clean knife to remove two thorns near the top of the stem and bend it toward the ground. Make a couple of small cuts into the bark between where the thorns were. This is called wounding the cane. Hold the wounded area in good contact with the soil with landscape pins and cover with soil, leaving the growing tip of the stem uncovered. It’s also a good idea to put a brick or stone over the covered and wounded cane to give it extra hold.
Next spring, you should see new growth emerge. Once you see new leaves on the rooted stem, carefully remove the entire stem from the parent plant, and recut the stem just beneath the new root mass. Now you are ready to plant your new rose bush.
Select and pre-order your spring-blooming bulbs now while supplies are plentiful. Don’t put off today what will be gone tomorrow. The most unusual bulbs sell out fast. I can say this now because I’ve already put my in order. Try something fun such as the species tulip, Tulipa clusiana.
Harvest vegetables as needed. Most of what’s growing in your vegetable garden are annuals–tomatoes, beens, peppers, etc. By August, they are looking a little wrung out. As plants end their production cycle, remove them from the garden; otherwise, they may attract insects and disease to the plants that are still productive.
I only every want to speak from experience; these are the fruits I grow in the Bee Better Teaching Garden.
Apple — Honey Crisp & North Sentinel apple; Crabapple — Malus ‘Transcendent’
Blueberries — Vaccinium ashei ‘Premier’, ‘Climax’, & ‘Powder Blue’
Chokecherry — Prunus virginiana
Dogwood — Cornus kousa
Cherry — Prunus avium ‘Stella’
Cornelian cherry — Cornus Mas
Elderberry — Sambucus cerulea
Fig — Ficus ‘Brown Turkey’, ‘LSU Purple’, and an unnamed sport with super large fruit.
Goji Berry — Lyceum barbarum
Goumi Berry — Elaeagnus multiflora
Kiwi, Hardy — Actinidia arguta
Kumquat — Fortunella japonica
Plum — Prunus ‘Santa Rosa’
Raspberries — Ever-bearing, Rubus idaeus
May Apple — Podophyllum peltatum
Muscadines The muscidines are ripening up, the blue berries are done
Passiflora — Passiflora incarnata
Pear, Barlette — Prunus communis
Persimmon — Diospyros kaki
Serviceberry — Amelanchier arborea
Strawberries — Fragaria
Quince — Cydonia oblonga
Plum ‘Santa Rose’
Serviceberry–Amelanchier × grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’
Waterwise: With a waterwise design, watering in the absence of rain is a breeze. My garden at home, the Bee Better Teaching Garden was designed with waterwise principles. I have very little watering to do, and what I do have, is a choice. My boxwood collection is contained. But the watering is smart. These containers are near a watering source, so moving around a hose isn’t a big deal.
Pest control: Pests. See these on your pines? They’re the Pine Sawfly larvae. Pick them off and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. I feed them to my chickens.
Organic: Fertilizer dos and don’ts. As August arrives, some plants will benefit from an application of fertilizer. For other plants, it could do more harm than good.
Do fertilize, Summer veggies such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant continue to produce when fertilized regularly. Use a product that contains 5 percent nitrogen.
Fall vegetable crops
Fall-blooming perennial and annual flowers
Chrysanthemums and dahlias
Re-blooming iris would benefit from a light application
Warm season lawns (Bermuda and Zoysia) can be fertilized
Remember to water any application of fertilizer well into the soil to provide nutrients to the roots of the plants.
Azaleas and camellias, because the fertilizer will disturb bud formation.
Summer-flowering shrubs shouldn’t need fertilizing for the same reason.
Cut flowers. Remember those zinnias you seeded in July? Seed more in August, and be sure to cut some to enjoy inside!
MARCH. March is a good time to drum to a different beat. As you plan your garden this year, think about doing something different. Flex your horticultural muscle and mix veggies with ornamentals, add a wildlife pond, grow herbs in containers or add a vine to serve as a host plant for butterflies. Beauty can be had in the most unusual ways.With the arrival of spring, we want to see beautiful gardens. Look for garden tours, events and symposia. A tour is a great way to explore inspiring gardens, to learn about plants that do well in your region and to walk away with a thousand ideas while having an enjoyable time. Even if you take away only one idea, it will be worth it. My gauge for a successful tour of multiple gardens is when every garden was somebody in the group’s favorite.
GROOM. Cut back roses. Keep climbing roses to a reasonable size by cutting back one cane to the ground and allowing a new cane to form. If you do this for three or four years, you will have a bush that produces blooms over a broader area, with canes of different heights from the ground up. The younger, shorter branches (canes) will produce more blooms than the older, longer woody ones.For miniature roses, cut out all dead growth, remove any crowded or diseased canes, and cut back the remaining canes to produce a rounded form. For hybrid teas and floribundas, cut back canes to force new growth. Remove damaged canes. After you cut the roses back, refresh the mulch by replacing the old with new.
Tidy camellia blooms. Spent camellia blooms, particularly with C. japonicas, are susceptible to petal blight. Remove fallen blooms — and those ready to fall — to prevent the spread of disease and insect problems. If you suspect your faded flowers have blight, don’t put them in the compost pile. Instead, place them in a plastic bag and dispose of it in the trash.
Snip some cuttings. If you are overwintering geraniums, begonias, coleus or impatiens, now is a good time to take cuttings. March cuttings will be ready to put in the ground by May.
PESTS. When you are finished cutting plants back and replacing the mulch, it is recommended to treat rosebushes with a lime-sulfur spray to combat overwintering insects and disease problems.
Treat for pests. Leaf miners will make their appearance this month. They appear as a swarms of small flying insects hovering around hollies and other evergreen shrubs and trees, then they lay eggs on the leaves. When the larvae hatch, they bore or “mine” into the leaf to form the tunnels. To lessen the problem, you can spray infested plants with a dormant oil to smother eggs. My absolute nemesis is the vole; it drives me (and others) mad. Voles become active again in March. To help lessen their destruction, keep mulch away from the trunks of shrubs and trees. If you see in what looks like a mouse hole in your flower bed, especially where you grow lilies and other bulbs, it’s likely a vole hole. Stop the madness. Try this: Bait a mousetrap with apple and peanut butter, and set it next to the hole.
PLANTS. Cozy up to clematis. If you have always wanted to plant a clematis at your mailbox, now is a good time to plant one, but only if you have a sunny location that does not receive the hot afternoon sun. Clematis needs good soil and good drainage. Mulch around the plant to keeps the roots cool.
Prune fig trees. Damaged wood needs to be removed, even if it means severely cutting the plant. For the best fruit production, figs need to be limed and fertilized.It takes 1/2 pound of 15-5-5 fertilizer (the numbers stand for the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) for every 3 feet of tree height. For example, a 6-foot-tall fig tree would need about a pound of fertilizer. Spread the fertilizer around the drip line of the plant and just beyond. After you water in the fertilizer, mulch the area around the tree.