Summer gardening chores

Published: Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 12:07 PM.

The summer months are the most difficult times to garden in Florida.  The high temperature and humidity make working outdoors extremely uncomfortable.  This is also the time of year when insect and disease problems seems to be at an all-time high.  Fortunately, Florida gardeners are a rugged group that believes the gain is worth the pain.

The summer season are important times to provide extra care for azaleas and camellias, while they are establishing flower buds for next season’s blooms.  During the summer, a lack of water and plant food or insects and diseases may limit next season’s production.

An attractive lawn somehow makes summer days seem a little cooler, yet it takes effort to maintain a healthy lawn during the summer.  It requires frequent mowing, edging and watering, water lawns thoroughly when needed applying one half to three quarters inch of water.

Yes, it is chinch bug time again! Chinch bugs which feed on St. Augustine lawns occur during hot, dry weather and may cause serious damage if not controlled.  Damage usually occurs as a patch with a brown, dead center and yellowish margin.  It seems chinch bugs get the blame and often unjustly for everything.  Be sure the damage is not due to other reasons.

Summer annuals always provide quick and easy color during the hot, summer days.  Fast growing and colorful annuals will continue to provide beauty if given proper care.  Feed established annuals with a complete fertilizer and remove faded blooms.  Water annuals well during hot, dry periods and control major annual pests to insure good production.

The summer months are good times to take cuttings or your favorite ornamentals.  Take cuttings four to six inches in length from current year’s growth and place them in a well-drained rooting media and cover with clear plastic or glass to achieve high humidity.  Don’t’ place the cuttings in full sun since heat will build up under the plastic and kill the cuttings.  Some plants that are common commonly grown from cuttings include:  Abelia, Gardenia, Croton, Coleus, Poinsettia, Ligustrum, Holly, Bottle Brush, Podocarpus, Althea, Crape Myrtle, Oleander and many others.

Other timely suggestions may include ordering seed catalogs for fall planting.  Inch back Chrysanthemums, to induce branching and more blooms for the fall.  Plan to fertilize established mums every two weeks until flowers buds appear.  Water Coleus and Caladiums often as they demand a cool, moist, yet never wet soil.  Keep flowers removed from Coleus and Caladiums and allow all the vigor of the plant to go into providing attractive foliage.  Take frequent rest between gardening, chores during hot, summer days and begin making plants for fall gardening.

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