It’s the end of summer and it’s hot–and not just hot, but hot and humid! Now is a good time to keep your garden activities to a minimum. If you work in your landscape addressing the few chores that might be necessary, always remember to STAY SAFE! Work primarily in the morning or late afternoon hours. Take frequent breaks. Stay well hydrated; remember your sunscreen and insect repellant. Quick tips on chores that may be needed this month:
- Check the overall appearance of your landscape and gardens. Landscape beds can become overcrowded with summer growth. Such crowding can increase the presence of insect pests and diseases due to summer’s high humidity and a lack of ventilation between plants. Monitor your plants often for signs of early pests or disease.
- August can be a rainy month; monitor rainfall and apply supplemental watering only as plants show signs of stress. Keep foliage dry to minimize pest issues. If hand-watering, aim water at the base of plant.
- You can now prune most evergreen and other shrubs to your desired shape. Exceptions to pruning now: Do not prune azaleas or camellias at this time as it will affect developing flower buds. Gardenias can still be pruned until October 1st, without affecting next year’s bloom. If you have poinsettias, pinch back or prune for the last time, no later than Sept 1st.
- To improve drainage, break up any compacted mulch in plant beds. Pull or rake back mulch that has piled up against a plant stem or tree trunk; this will decrease your risk of pest or disease damage.
- Many perennials and annuals in your garden are now pooped! Cut back spent blooms and fertilize as needed to extend blooms into early autumn. If you have wildflowers, leave some blossoms that can produce seed for next year’s garden, and provide food for visiting birds.
- Consider adding new color by planting a container of annuals or perennials. The colors blue, violet, purple, pink, green and white are considered “cool” garden colors which lend a calm and soothing effect to a steamy late summer garden. All container plants may need supplemental fertilizing, as watering can leach nutrients from the container’s soil. A liquid 20-20-20- fertilizer can be used, following the label’s directions.
- If you have a hot sunny space of turfgrass, consider removing a portion and add a shade tree or trees to create cool shade for the future.
- Summer rains and weed growth go together. If possible, try to keep up with this chore by weeding a little at a time, but frequently, remembering to avoid working in midday heat. Read our blog post on tips for hand weeding: https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/polkco/2023/07/14/quick-tips-on-hand-weeding-in-your-florida-friendly-yard/.
- Discourage mosquito breeding. Empty any containers in your yard that holds water. Replenish bird baths at least every other day. Flush out bromeliad cups with a garden hose once a week.
- Monitor your landscape for hurricane preparedness. Check trees for damaged/broken branches or branches that overhang rooftop. Check the landscape for yard furniture and other loose items that could become projectiles in heavy winds. Refer to our blog post on hurricane preparedness for more information: https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/polkco/2019/05/13/preparing-your-landscape-for-hurricane-season/.
While summer may be hot and humid, our autumn, winter and spring months make up for the heat by providing some of the best gardening climate to be found anywhere! Why not take some time this August and September to find a shady porch and a glass of iced tea—relax and make plans for your cool-weather gardening. August is a great time to peruse garden books, local magazines, and online sources for inspiration! Stay cool, and Happy Gardening!
“Integrated Pest Management” https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/pests-and-diseases/pests/management/integrated-pest-management.html
“Natural Pest and Disease Management” https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/pests-and-diseases/pests/management/natural-pest-and-disease-management.html
“Hurricane Preparedness” https://extadmin.ifas.ufl.edu/disaster/
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. Give us a call or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are not in Polk County, Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic.
The Florida Master Gardener Volunteer 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.
This article was written by Master Gardener Volunteer Molly Griner under supervision of the Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator and Residential Horticulture Extension Agent Anne Yasalonis.
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