August Sustainable Garden Maintenance Practices for the Southeast, Ecoregion 231

Posted by on August 1, 2017

AUGUST 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, black-eyed Susans, coreopsis, cup plant, salvias, Joe Pye weed, phlox, ruella, coneflowers, milkweeds, plus the annuals are blooming their full heads off, especially the zinnias! Plus many others.

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 OK to deadhead.





August is a good time to divide iris. Don’t be afraid of this task; it’s super easy. When iris get crowded, the don’t bloom as well. Below is a good example of a crowded iris patch.

Using a garden fork or shovel, loosen the soil around the outside of the patch. Once loosened, take a hand fork or trowel to lightly left from the edge. They should release from soil with no struggle.

Gently pull clumps apart.

Discard rhizomes with no foliage, damaged, or soft.

Cut back the foliage into a fan shape to keep the iris from having to care for more growth than it needs to.

Replant at the surface of the ground. Lightly cover with soil, and water in well.

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. Try something new to try. Are you familiar with 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, so this section is the authority on maintaining any fruit that doesn’t requires spraying. I simply won’t grow them, and if I did, I still wouldn’t spray. Joni Mitchell comes to mind; these are the fruits I grow in the Bee Better Teaching Garden.

Apple — Malus pumila, Honey Crisp — Hasn’t fruited for me yet.

Apple — Malus domesticaNorth Pole Sentinel apple

(Crab)apple — Malus ‘Transcendent’

Blueberries — Vaccinium ashei ‘Premier’, ‘Climax’, & ‘Powder Blue’

Cherry ‘Stella’ —  Prunus avium ‘Stella’ — Hasn’t fruited for me yet.

Chokeberry — Aronia melanocarpa

Chokecherry — Prunus virginiana

Dogwood — Cornus kousa by next month, I will be harvesting the fruitKousa fruit Good Berry

Cornelian cherry — Cornus Mas

Elderberry — Sambucus cerulea

Fig — Ficus ‘Brown Turkey’ The second crop is a bumper!

Fig — ‘LSU Purple’ — Hasn’t fruited for me yet.

Goji Berry — Lyceum barbarum

Goumi Berry — Elaeagnus multiflora

Kiwi, Hardy — Actinidia arguta

Kumquat — Fortunella japonica   Flowers in the winter for us, but doesn’t fruit; or at least it has never fruited for me. My specimen is 10 years old.

Raspberries — Ever-bearing, Rubus idaeus

May Apple — Podophyllum peltatum

Muscadines —Vitis rotundifolia, The muscidines are ripening up. 

Passiflora — Passiflora incarnata 

Paw-paw — Asimina triloba In fruit now.

Pear, Barlette — Prunus communis 

Persimmon —  Diospyros kaki ‘Fuyu’

Plum ‘Santa Rosa’ — Prunus salicina ‘Santa Rosa’

Pomegranate — Punica granatum ‘Nana’ and

Pomegranate — Punica granatum — Unknown variety, with a medium height.

Quince — Cydonia oblongas

Raspberries — Rubus spp.

Serviceberry — Amelanchier arborea

Strawberries —  Fragaria × 

Serviceberry — Amelanchier × grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’

In the absence of rain, fill bird baths.

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.

Mulch: This time of the year, your mulch is working double duty! Mulch moderates soil temperature, which is helpful particularly in the summer or winter. Plus organic mulches retain moisture & slowly add nutrients as it breaks down in the soil.

Pest control:  Pinesaw larvaePests. 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: In my gardens at home and at the Bee Better Teaching Garden, we don’t use fertilizers.  We won’t win the largest pumpkin at the fair, but we will have plenty of pumpkin for pies. But I’ve been building my soil for the last 20 years. She can take care of herself.

Before you fertilize, have your soil tested. Adding to much can be harmful to many plants.

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.

Don’t fertilize:
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!


One response to “August Sustainable Garden Maintenance Practices for the Southeast, Ecoregion 231”

  1. Thanks for the reminder to seed more Zinnias — I was just sitting here wondering if I should do that.

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