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!
July is your prize after many months of gardening — from fall prep to spring planning — and you now get to reap your rewards with fresh fruits, vegetables and fragrant flowers.
It is a time of abundance.
July is not the best planting month for Southeast gardens, but it’s a good time to plan and prepare. The weeds will not let you rest, but they might slow down to a manageable pace during the dog days of summer. Rainfall will best determine how much time you’ll spend weeding. Little rain, fewer weeds. More rain, more weeds.
Cut back annuals: Cut back summer annuals so they don’t get leggy. A good time to do this is right before you go on vacation; this way, you will be gone as the plants get a fresh start. Petunias benefit from this kind of summer pinch. This cutback from the ends of the stems encourages branching, resulting in a bushier plant.
Practice wise watering methods: July can be a month with limited rainfall. When nature stops providing regular rain, you may need to supplement. Here are some tips to help your garden during a dry season:
- Chances are your container plants will need to be watered every day. Check by doing the finger test. If the top inch of soil is dry, it’s time to water. Water thoroughly. Small pots will dry out faster than larger pots, and containers in the sun will dry out faster than those in the shade.
- Add mulch. A layer of mulch, 3 to 4 inches deep, will moderate soil temperature and reduce evaporation. Organic mulches include: composted leaves, shredded pine or hardwoods, and even nuggets. Mulches will also reduce weed production and keep the garden looking tidy.
- First season plants — those fall and spring additions — will need more frequent watering than established ones. Water new additions two or three times per week until the plants are established. Established plants typically require watering once a week.
- Conserve water by running a sprinkler during cooler hours, typically early in the morning. This will help reduce water loss due to evaporation. If possible, set up a drip irrigation system or a soaker hose to minimize waste. Watering in the morning hours also allows the water to dry on the foliage, minimizing fungal formation.
Deadhead and deadleaf spent flowers: Remove hosta flowers after the bloom is spent. They’re primarily decorative and not an energy source for the plant, so they don’t need to die back completely before removing.
Deadhead the spent flowers of daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.), Shasta daisies,(Leucanthemum spp.), black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia, spp.) and bee balm (Monarda spp.) to extend the bloom time.
Do those yellow leaves of the daylily make you see red? They do to me. Not only do I deadhead my daylilies, but I also deadleaf. I don’t like the look of yellow or decaying daylily leaves.
Divide irises: Did you have success with your new iris planted this year or in the fall? If not, it could be due to several factors: too much shade, too much fertilizer, too deep a planting, or crowding. July is a good time to correct any of these problems by lifting and relocating or repositioning to a more favorable location.
Plant the iris high with the rhizomes along the surface of the dirt. They will be covered finely and lightly with mulch, but not soil. Make sure you can either see the rhizomes or have the ability to brush away the mulch exposing the bulb.With the exception of Louisiana variety, irises need six to eight hours of sunlight to bloom and require good drainage. If you have a damp, partial sun location in your garden, plant a Louisiana iris.
Harvest summer edibles: Harvest tomatoes when they are ripe. There is nothing better than sinking your teeth into a ripe tomato, warmed from the summer sun. Didn’t plant tomatoes? Visit your local farmers market for a selection of fresh, field-grown varieties.In your home garden, keep an eye out for early blight. Blight is a fungal disease that will cause spots to develop on the foliage. The leaves begin to yellow and then drop. Pinch off foliage at first indication. If too severe, there are several fungicides that can be used to reduce the symptoms.
After the blackberry and raspberry harvest, remove the old fruiting canes to make room for the new canes that will produce next year’s crop.
Manage pests: Do yourself a favor and never look into the “eye” of a bagworm. Bagworms have got to be the most disgusting looking thing ever — to me anyway.
Bagworms can be treated by removing them by hand and dropping into a bucket of soapy water. If the bagworm infestation isn’t within easy reach, they can be sprayed with Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt.
Bt is a microbial insecticide that’s commonly used to control various caterpillars such as the red-headed azalea caterpillar along with many others, as well as bagworms.