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!
Admire blooming trees and shrubs. May is bloom time for southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). These flowers give so much, and we need to do so little for them in return. I like to pluck a magnolia bloom and float it in a bowl of water near where I read or enjoy the garden at the end of the day. It lasts but a day, but what a day it is. The Endless Summer hydrangea is the first hydrangea to bloom on old and new growth, with the ability to rebloom all summer long. I planted my Endless Summer in 2005. To encourage reblooming, cut the blooms for drying or to put in vases for a fresh arrangement. This will also encourage the plant to set new buds.Prune rhododendrons and azaleas right after flowering.
Fertilize sustainably. To encourage flowering, use a fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in phosphorus.Fertilizer’s three main ingredients are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, or NPK.
- 10-10-10 means there is an equal proportion N, P and K.
- Hydrangeas like a low N and a high P; thus a combination of 10-40-10 would be ideal.
My general rule of thumb to remember what the numbers mean is to start with the first number and apply from the top of the plant to the bottom. As such, N is for the green, P is for the bloom and K is for the root or up and down and all around.
To refresh your understanding of pH, it refers to the acidity of the soil and is measured by the number of hydrogen ions present in the soil. It’s a logarithmic scale based on the power of 10. As such, a pH of 6 is 10 times more acidic than pH of 7. Thus, even a little change in pH can make a big difference.
- A pH of 7 is neutral.
- A pH lower than than 7 is acidic.
- A ph higher than 7 is alkaline.
Most plants like a pH between 6.5 and 7. Hydrangeas like it more acidic than most plants.