August is a tough month for gardening. Heat, humidity, fungus and bugs have all taken their toll on our outdoor plants. August is not generally thought of as a great time to garden in the Southeast. But there are things to do now that can make a big difference in your landscape and garden in the near future.
Now is a good time to clean up roses for fall flower production. Many gardeners neglect their roses during the busy summer months. Our hot, wet weather results in black spot and powdery mildew. As a result, you’ll need to have your roses on a regular spray schedule for these diseases. Prune to remove diseased, dead, weak and leggy branches. If the roses have not been fertilized recently, an application of fertilizer is suggested. With some care, you’ll be surprised how well the neglected rose plants respond and bloom during late summer and fall. More information on growing roses in Florida is available at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep339 or from the UF/IFAS Extension office in your county.
Many common woody ornamentals like oleander, hydrangeas and azaleas can be propagated by cuttings this time of year. For azaleas, take tip cuttings 3 to 5 inches long with several leaves left attached. Many rooting mediums can be used such as sand or a mixture of peat and perlite. Place cuttings in the media and keep moist by covering with a plastic bag or use a mist system. A rooting hormone may hasten root growth. If you have cold-sensitive ornamentals, try rooting cuttings before winter and keep the young plants in a protected spot this winter. Then, if the ornamental freezes, you’ll have replacements for spring. Detailed information on plant propagation is available at http://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00003393/00001 or from the UF/IFAS Extension office in your county.
Late summer and early fall is an ideal time to lift, divide and replant daylily clumps. Retain as many roots as possible with each division. Cut back the foliage to 1/3 its original height. Prepare the soil in the bed by loosening and amending it with organic matter such as compost or peat moss. A light application of fertilizer can be added at planting time. Daylilies should not be planted too deep. Set the new divisions as deep as they grew originally.
Now is a good time to force crape myrtles to flower again. Remove(deadhead) spent flowers or seedpods, pruning just the terminal seed cluster. This forces new growth and repeat flowering. It takes about four to six weeks before you’ll be enjoying a second flush of blooms on your crape myrtle. This technique also works on chaste trees (Vitex).
Be careful working out in the heat! Drink plenty of water, work in the cooler parts of the day, wear a hat and plenty of sunscreen.