Late summer is a hard time to get inspired about working in the garden. It’s really an in-between season too late for summer flowers, and too early for winter varieties. But most of all, it’s just too hot to spend much time working outdoors. However, there are plenty of easy jobs in the garden that really need to be done at this time. My tips on late summer gardening was provided by Emeritus Extension Horticulture Specialist Dr. Robert Black, of the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
If you’re growing roses, it’s a good idea to prune them late in August. Remove the healthy top growth, as well as the dead twigs and branches, and any diseased, injured, thin, or spindly growth. Shorten the main canes and lateral branches. Leave at least half the length of each main cane that’s one to three years old. If you follow these pruning recommendations the first flowers can be expected in eight or nine weeks. These flowers will be larger than they could have grown without the pruning.
If you’re growing mums or poinsettias, this is the last month that should pinch these plants to increase blooms we’ve talked about this before, so you may remember that pinching back the stem tips will increase branching, and promote heavier flowering in the late fall. But don’t wait too long before you do this. Otherwise you’ll be pinching off the flower buds instead of the stem tips and this will reduce the number of flowers that bloom in the fall. August is also the time to pinch off some the buds on our camellias. As soon as you can distinguish the rounded flower buds from the pointed vegetative bud, twist off all but one of the flower buds at each tip. The remaining bud should develop into a large flower, so be very careful not to injure it.
Some flowers, such as Sasanquas and Japonicas, are valued for their large number of blooms and don’t need to be pinched.
Many common ornamental, such as Oleander, Hydrangeas, and Azaleas can be propagated by cuttings this time of year. For Azaleas, take tip cuttings, three to five inches long, with several leaves still attached. Place the cutting in a rooting medium, and keep them moist by covering them with a plastic bag, or using a mist system.
Many rooting mediums can be used. The most common are sand, and mixtures of peat and perlite. You may want to use a rooting hormone to hasten root growth.
If you have any cold sensitive ornamentals in your landscape, you might think about rooting a few cuttings before winter, and keeping the young plants in a protected place. That way, if your ornamental plant freezes, you’ll have replacement for the spring.
If you want to plant things during August or early September, you might try bulbs of Louisiana Iris, Ginger, Crinums, Daylilies, Amaryllis, and Zephyr Lilies. You can still plant wood ornamentals as well, but hurry up so that they’ll have a chance to become well established before the winter comes.
Now is also the time to plan for your winter annuals, such as baby’s breath, calendulas, and pansies. Start ordering your seeds and preparing the flower beds.
Keep a careful watch for insect on your lawn and shrubbery. Late summer is when chinch bugs and mole crickets are very active on lawns, and white flies, scales, aphids, and caterpillars are damaging ornamentals.
For more information on late summer tips contact the Gulf County Extension Service @ 639-3200 or visit our website: http://gulf.ifas.ufl.edu