September in Florida…still hot and muggy! Here are a few more hacks to make garden chores a little easier as we still have a few months of summer-like temperatures ahead of us.
PROTECT NEW PLANTS
If planting tender young annuals or perennials in the hot sun, place a beach umbrella over them to provide a bit of shade the first couple of days. Be sure to water new plants adequately in the initial days of planting.
EASY WAY TO REAPPLY SUNSCREEN
Keep an aerosol can of sunscreen in your garden work basket. When hands and arms get covered in sand/dirt as you garden, you might have more of a tendency to reapply your sunscreen with a convenient spray, as opposed to stopping to wash hands to apply cream types. Remember that sunscreen needs to be reapplied during periods of sun exposure. (Read sunscreen label for frequency, often about every 80 minutes).
During hot humid periods, avoid overhead watering of zinnias, black-eyed susan, basil and other plants that are susceptible to fungus.
BEAT THE CLOCK
Really and truly, if you begin your garden chores by 7:00 am, you’ll be glad you did. By 11:00, you’ll have put in a good four hours. You can then clean up, have lunch and, if needed, take a nice nap during the worst heat of the day.
Many wildflowers are setting seed by the end of the summer. Keep a close eye on ripening seed pods and collect seeds to share, or allow flowers to self-sow in your native garden. Also, learn to identify wildflower seedlings so you don’t accidentally “weed” them!
Love the tropical color of red ti plants? Maximize the color in your landscape by planting several plants about 24 inches apart. Cut the plants at staggering heights; as they grow, continue to cut back and allow a succession of heights. (Often ti plants can be purchased with three individual plants to a 3-gallon container, which can be carefully separated at time of planting.)
INSECT PESTS ON LEAF UNDERSIDES
Do you have aphids, scales, azalea lace bugs or other pests located on the under surface of foliage? Spraying to treat such locations can be awkward. You can purchase curved spray wands, which make spraying leaf undersides more efficient. Always use the least toxic chemical (such as Neem, insecticidal soaps, or similar). Read the label and follow all chemical directions. The label is the law!
PROTECTING OUR WATER
Last, please DO NOT blow grass clippings or other yard debris into the street or roadway! These clippings are carried by our summer rains into storm drains and end up in our lakes, rivers, springs and ponds, polluting our water sources with fertilizers and other pollutants. Learn more about how we can all contribute positively to protect Florida’s precious water resources; visit https://water.ifas.ufl.edu. Did you know that Polk County’s fertilizer ordinance specifically prohibits grass clippings down storm drains?
Happy end-of-summer gardening. Cooler weather WILL return!
This blog post was written by Master Gardener Molly Griner under supervision of the Master Gardener Coordinator and Residential Horticulture Agent Anne Yasalonis.
For more information, contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at (863) 519-1041 or visit us online at http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk. The Plant Clinic is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm to answer your gardening and landscaping questions. Visit us in person, give us a call, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Florida Master Gardener Program is a volunteer-driven program that benefits UF/IFAS Extension and the citizens of Florida. The program extends the vision of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, all the while protecting and sustaining natural resources and environmental systems, enhancing the development of human resources, and improving the quality of human life through the development of knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and making that knowledge accessible.
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