August in the garden can be challenging for both gardeners and plants. But it’s also a time to evaluate your garden, both the successes and the failures, and decide what you may want to change for next year.
Here are some tips to keep your gardens healthy in the heat of August.
1. Pull weeds as soon as you notice them, before they go to seed in the garden. This will help reduce overwintering weeds that can wreak havoc next year. Use the hand weeder for tough weeds like dandelions and thistles.
2. Remove spent flowers (deadhead) on annuals, roses and perennials. Many will reward you with more blooms that continue well into fall.
Certain flowers are good candidates for drying including hydrangea blossoms, globe amaranth, celosia, straw flowers and ornamental grasses. Harvest them when they are dry in the morning but before noon when temperatures begin to get hot. With annual flowers, select those that are not fully open.
• Once you cut the stems, strip all the leaves and remove any damaged parts of the flower.
• Store them in a dry, dark, warm place, preferably one with good air circulation.
• Depending on the type of flower, it may take two to three weeks before they are completely dry.
• You can also hang them upside down to dry, or in a vase without water.
• Once they dry completely, the blooms should last for years, although the colors will fade over time.
3. Prune and remove dead branches on shrubs and small trees.
4. Keep new plantings (planted within the past six months) of flowers, shrubs and trees watered during hot, dry spells. Apply a fresh layer of mulch (1 to 2 inches thick) after you weed. This will help the soil maintain moisture and reduce future weed crops.
5. Have your soil tested. A simple soil test can help you determine which nutrients may be lacking and what you need to add (according to what you are growing.) in the way of amendments to ensure your plants will thrive.
6. Order spring flowering bulbs like daffodils and tulips. Most companies will ship them to you at the appropriate time in the fall. The soil temperature should be 15°C or cooler before you plant.
7. Photograph your garden to help you remember where plants are. This will help during the Winter as you plan for new plantings, a new deck or water features.