Some like it hot - but it is very hot especially if you have to work outdoors during the middle and later portion of the day. But there is work to be done so try and pick an early morning or very late afternoon to head out into the landscape. I have a general rule if it is more than 90 degrees it is too hot for gardening. I do have to occasionally break this rule.
Rains have been plentiful in most areas. We do get a few breaks that allow the plants to recover from constantly wet roots which helps prevent rot problems. But still we do not want to turn down the rains. Do look for the areas that become flooded and take action to drain these spots or raise the planting sites. Also, note bedding plants that don't mind the frequent showers like coleus, pentas, angelonia, bush daisy and caladiums. These would be best to plant during the summer and they may last into fall.
Now is the time to prepare the garden for the next planting. You are sure to notice this month's list of Gotta Do's is quite long. Try to start your new plantings around mid month. Hopefully you have your transplants growing or can sow the seed immediately. It is important tomatoes eggplants and peppers get an early start.
Good soil preparation is also critical for a successful garden. Many of us are fighting nematodes. What I do is try to find resistant varieties. Now, they may be resistant to some forms of root knot nematodes but not others. So if I think there is going to be a problem I open a big hole and fill it with a potting soil to grow the new plantings. It gets me through the growing season and a harvest.
Diseases are prevalent during the summer and one many notice is the rust fungus on Plumeria and cannas. If you have this disease and want to keep the plants fairly rust free, try one of the systemic fungicides like the Bayer Disease Control for Roses, Flowers and Shrubs following label instructions. Spraying should begin at the beginning of the rainy season and continue while the rust fungus is active, often into fall.
It will be a Hot August and maybe September but we have work to do. Just pick the best time to get out in the garden and perform this month's Gotta Do's
Vegetable & fruit care:
- A new warm season garden starts this month; plant most crops around mid August.
- It is not too late to start tomato, pepper & eggplant transplants form seed, but hurry
- Fertilize new seedlings weekly with a half strength fertilizer solution.
- Plant your garden in a sunny site with a nearby water source.
- Remove summer weeds, till the ground and test the soil acidity to adjust if needed.
- Enrich sandy soils and old planting sites with garden soils, organic matter and manure
- If gardens are not planted until fall there is still time for a soil solarization treatment.
- Seeds of melons and pumpkins must be planted during early August.
- Where possible plant nematode resistant tomato and other vegetable varieties.
- Open wide, 8 inch or deeper holes in nematode infested sties and fill with fresh pest free soil.
- Many gardeners like to grow vegetables in large containers filled with a good potting soil.
- Give tomatoes an extra large container and keep moist to prevent blossom-end rot.
- Start early to train tomatoes and many vining crops to stakes or trellises.
- Stake peppers or contain them in medium size wire rings.
- Groom and feed herbs monthly; shelter container-grown herbs from the daily rains.
- Feed bananas and figs monthly but lightly; keep moist and mulched.
- Give grape, apple and peach plantings a summer feeding.
- Feed citrus with one-quarter pound of citrus fertilizer per inch of trunk circumference.
- Previously brown dry turf has a new green look but check for common summer problems.
- Dense shade causes lawns to thin which is normal
- Lawns in shade may decline due to rot problems; contact a lawn spray service to control.
- Declining yellow grass may be take-all root rot; if allowed try to regreen with liquid fertilizer.
- Expanding yellow spots in St. Augustine grass may be due to chinch bugs; treat as needed.
- Chewed grass blades can result from caterpillars; ask for a natural control at garden centers.
- Lawns may begin to look yellow green by mid summer; where permitted. apply fertilizer.
- Check local regulations as some prohibit feeding lawns during the summer.
- Fill bare areas with sod, plugs or seed to take advantage of the good growing weather.
- Wait until fall to sod shady areas to prevent decline due to excessive moisture.
- New lawns are susceptible to fungal leaf spots; apply a fungicide to help reduce decline.
- Mow frequently at the proper height and keep the blades sharp to prevent jagged ends.
- Allowing your lawn to wilt a little between waterings helps deepen the root system.
- Spot control weeds that are filling bare spots and over growing the good grass.
- Consider another ground cover for hard to maintain and problem turf areas
- Summer is a good time to add new plants to the landscape as rains help with the watering.
- Select plants that grow to the proper height for your site to prevent excessive pruning.
- Make sure root balls are moist at planting and create berms at the edge to catch water.
- Summer rains can help water new plantings; check daily to make sure the soil remains moist.
- Really tough bedding plants include, bush daisy, coleus, pentas, torenia and classic zinnias.
- Invite pollinators to visit with butterfly weed, coreopsis, pentas, Porter weed and salvias.
- Trim hydrangeas when the old flower heads begin to decline.
- Give poinsettias and chrysanthemums there last pruning by the end of the month.
- Orange spots on plumeria leaves are caused by a rust disease; use a rust control fungicide.
- Leaf spots affect many shrubs; have them diagnosed and apply a control if needed.
- Keep shrubs healthy: where permitted apply a summer feeding of a slow release fertilizer.
- Landscape plantings make lots of growth during summer; prune to keep in bounds.
- Weeds grow out of control during summer; remove to prevent seeding and more weeds.
- Renew mulch layers to control weeds: keep them back a few inches from stems and trunks.
- Summer rains can cause container plants to decline; check for proper drainage.
- Replace annuals and perennials with heat tolerant selections.
- Continue to feed flower beds to encourage growth and repeat blooms.
- Palms are best fertilized with products made for their needs and contain minor nutrients.
- Keep palms healthy; only remove the dead fronds and old flower heads.
- Palms are being affected by several diseases; sterilize pruners between palms.
- Don't let vines climb trees and shrubs; train them to arbors and trellises.
- Pruning time is over for azaleas, camellias and gardenias that are forming flowers buds.
- Edge walkways and drives to keep the landscape attractive.
- Container gardens make attractive accents to grow in the problem landscape spots.
- Feed container gardens frequently; use a liquid fertilizer or slow release product as labeled.
- Add foliage plants to the shady gardens during the warmer months.
- Trim and reshape foliage plants to encourage new growth by fall.
- Look for root bound plants and transplant into a larger container.
- Summer pests include mealy bugs, scales and mites; control with natural insecticides.
- Make cuttings of your favorite plants.
- Feed all foliage plants with a slow release fertilizer.
- Late summer sales may be starting at garden centers: look for plants to add to the collection.
- Indoor plants accumulate dust like furniture; rise with water or a mild soapy solution.
- There is still time to move light starved plants outdoors to a shady location.
- Enjoy orchids and bromeliads indoors when in bloom, then move them outside to the shade.
- Divide clump forming foliage plants like spathiphyllum and sansevieria.
Flowers: Angelonia, begonia, black-eyed Susan vine, blue daze, butterfly weed, bush daisy, cat's whiskers, chrysanthemums, coleus, coreopsis, crossandra, fire spike, gaura, golden globe, heliconia, jacobinia, impatiens, lantana, marigold, melampodium, moon flower, pentas, periwinkle, porter weed, portulaca, purslane, salvia, Stokes aster, sunflower, torenia and zinnia.
Vegetables: Cantaloupe, collard, corn, cucumber, eggplant, lima bean, okra, pepper, pumpkin, snap bean, southern pea, squash, tomato and watermelon.
Herbs: Anise, basil, bay laurel, chive, dill, ginger, lemon balm, Mexican tarragon, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram and thyme.
Bulbs type plants: African iris, agapanthus, amaryllis, bulbine, canna, crinum, day lily, gladiolus, gloriosa lily, kaffir lily, Louisiana iris, society garlic, rain lily and walking iris.