Now’s the Time: August

The garden is at its peak and long days offer lots of opportunities for harvesting flowers, fruits, and branches of greenery. There’s a bit to do, but for the most part it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Here’s how to make the most of the month.

Zone: 3 - 5

Winding Down: Your garden (and you) is tuckered out from all that a hot, humid and hazy August dishes out. Keep watering and weeding, but also it’s a good time for pruning summer-blooming shrubs like roses and mophead hydrangeas. And, this is the last real opportunity in the coldest zones for trimming hedges (don’t need any soft growth going into fall).

(<—–This is Holmstrup Eastern Arborvitae, hardy to zone 3)

Speaking of the three H’s: You might see an uptick in plant diseases this month and while there’s not much sense in lavishing love on annuals, perennials and shrubs will benefit from having their interior branches trimmed to increase air circulation and eliminate cozy spots where diseases can thrive. Sharp, clean pruners, please!

(<—–This is Petite Plum® Ninebark, hardy to zone 4)

Zone: 6 - 8

Love, Lavenders! Mid-to-late season blooming French lavenders are in flower this month. Clip and enjoy the flowers (Ice cream! Flavored sugar!), then using hand pruners shape the plant into a symmetrical mound, like a shallow bowl turned upside down. This will help get a bushy shape next year.

(<—– This is Lavendula x intermedia ‘Provence’ )

Think Spring: Rhododendrons and azaleas (and camellias, too), are setting flower buds now for next year’s blooms. Key to a spectacular show next year is deep watering right now. Make sure they get an inch of water per week, either from heavens or hose. Same goes for hollies. Those pretty berries can drop if they don’t get consistent moisture.

(<—– This is Cherry Cheesecake Rhododendron)

Zone: 9 - 11

High Summer Drama: Most cannas are blooming with tall, spiky stems that can produce 2 – 4 bloom at the top of each. Dead head spent blooms regularly and when a flowering spike has no more buds, cut it back to a side shoot where another flowering spike will emerge. Eventually the stem will be done–cut that down to the base of the plant. Cannas make great cut flowers!

(<—– This is Tropicanna® Canna)

Summer, Summer Fruits: Give fruiting plants (trees like apples, berries like raspberries) in containers a good feeding of a high potash liquid fertilizer (after watering well) to keep them healthy and productive into fall. Everbearing strawberries growing runners? Pinch off those babies, keep feeding, and you might just get berries for at least another month.

(<—– This is Albion Strawberry, which is super sweet!)

All Zones

  • Ready For My Close-Up: Take pictures of your garden at peak and note any gaps to fill or congestion to ease that you can tackle either in fall or early spring depending on your zone. And you think you’ll remember what was in those killer container plantings you created, but probably not. Grab that cellphone and snap away!

  • But I just watered you: It’s not uncommon for plants to wilt on hot afternoons even though soil has adequate moisture (known as transpiration). Plants are losing water faster than their roots can absorb it from surrounding soils. Holster the hose–those leaves should revive by early evening. If not, water deeply!

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