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 information on “Tips for Summer Gardening” was provided by Emeritus Extension Horticulture Specialist Dr. Robert J. Black, of the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS).
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 can that’s one to three years old. If you follow these pruning recommendations, the first flowers can be expected in eight or nine weeks. And the 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 you should pinch these plants to increase blooms. Pinching back the stem tips will increase branching, and promote heavier flowering in the late fall. Don’t wait too long before you do this. Otherwise you’ll be pinching off the flower buds instead of the stem tips will reduce the number of flowers that bloom in the fall.
August is also the time to pinch off some of the buds on your camellias. As soon as you can distinguish the rounded flower buds from the pointed vegetative buds, twist off all but one of the flowers buds at each tip. The remaining bud should develop into a large flower, so be very careful not to injure it.
Many common ornamental, such as oleander, hydrangeas, and azaleas can be propagated by cuttings this time of year. For azaleas, take tip cutting, three to five inches long, with several leaves still attached. Place the cuttings 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 you 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 plants freezes, you’ll have replacement for the spring.
If you want to plant things during August, you might try bulbs of Louisiana Iris, Ginger, 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 plant 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 insects 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.