It’s hard to believe that August is upon us this weekend!! With all the heavy work in the garden over and harvesting beginning, one would think you could sit back and relax. But there’s always something to do. Here’s my gardening tips for August:
Gardening Tip 1 – Fertilize Your Roses:
Constance Spry climbing rose
Roses are heavy feeders and right now is the optimum time to fertilize them before the fall. Use an organic fertilizer such as alfalfa meal which is usually available where organic fertilizers are sold. Doing this now will ensure that the new growth will go into the cooler weather strong and healthy.
Gardening Tip 2 – Take Root Cuttings of Geraniums:
Your geraniums are probably looking a little leggy right now and are due for a haircut. While you’re at it, keep some of the top shoots and set them into small pots to grow inside during the winter. This way you will have “mother plants” for next year which will be bigger and heartier than the nursery varieties. This is especially good to do for “Martha Washington” or fragrant geraniums.
Strip the leaves form a six inch cutting and dip into root hormone. Plant up in small pots and place inside once the weather cools. For a full tutorial, visit Growing With Plants.
Gardening Tip 3 – Divide Oriental Poppies:
Now is the time to divide your poppies. Once they finish blooming, they go into a quasi-dormancy. Divide them as you would any perennial by lifting the entire plant out and splitting the root ball with a knife or spade. By doing this now, your poppies will have a chance to settle back in before the cooler weather. It’s a win/win – the plant will be happier and you will have new plants to use in the garden.
By the way if you haven’t divided your irises, this is a good time too.
Gardening Tip 4 – Prune Trees & Shrubs:
Don’t wait too much longer to prune your trees and shrubs. Most of the flowering shrubs will have finished blooming by now, so it’s a good time to get rid of any crossed branches, weak growth or water sprouts.
The diagram above shows water sprout growth on an existing branch or around the base of your shrub. My magnolia tree always gets a lot of water sprouts, so I trim them off every August. At first I thought they were good growth. But they won’t bloom and just suck water from the root system.
This is also the time to do one final trimming of any evergreen shrubs and trees.
Gardening Tip 6 – Order Spring Bulbs:
I know, I know….it’s hot and humid and the last thing you want to think about it next spring!! But ordering your bulbs now ensures that you’ll get the best selection and prices. Some of my favourite places to order bulbs are Breck’s , White Flower Farm or Vesey’s. Order them now and these companies will deliver when it’s the right time to plant in your area (late September-October for me).
Bonus Tip: Plant Seeds for Fall Crops:
You can extend the season in your vegetable garden by planting some seeds right now. It’s not too late to enjoy fresh lettuce, spinach, beets and carrots right through till the frost hits. Plants like lettuce and beets actually prefer the cooler temperatures. It just cheers me up to see new growth as the evenings start to get cooler.
So the main growing season may be over in most parts of the country and your plants are sitting back and enjoying the warm sun of August. But there’s still some things to keep us busy in the garden (besides the never ending task of weeding).