Timely Tips: August 2014
Plant: Cucumbers, squash and beans early August in North Texas, mid-month in South. Cole crops mid-August in North Texas and two weeks later in South Texas. Leaf and root crops late August (early September in South Texas). Marigolds, zinnias, celosias mid-August from 4-inch pots. Select plants that do not yet have open flowers for best results. Crape myrtles at any time during the period. Select the exact color you want while the plants are blooming in area nurseries, but ask about the plant’s eventual mature size. Some varieties never grow taller than 4 to 5 feet, while others may exceed 20 feet. You need to know when you buy. Other woody plants can be set out now (assuming your watering curtailments allow) with excellent results. Just don’t let them get too dry between waterings. Lawngrasses can be planted during this time (same assumption pertaining to watering restrictions), but be mindful of the new turf’s water needs, too. Sod has very shallow roots, as will newly germinated bermuda seeds. Water lightly once or twice daily for the first couple of weeks, until the grass develops deep roots.
Prune: Tidy up perennial gardens by removing old flower heads and seeds, also dead or dying leaves. Mow lawn at five-day intervals, so grass won’t get excessively tall. Frequent mowing encourages denser turf that is better able to handle the heat and dry conditions. Remove errant growth from shrubs and vines, such as elaeagnus, abelia and Lady Banksia roses. Roses are generally of inferior quality during the hot days of late summer, so you may prefer just to cut them as the buds show color and use them in vases indoors. Trim rose bushes back by one-third in very early August to promote strong growth and fall blooms. Prune above buds that face out, away from the centers of the plants.
Fertilize: Apply diluted water-soluble, complete-and-balanced analysis fertilizer to all your hanging baskets and patio potted plants each time that you water to replenish their nutrients. Use iron additives to correct chlorosis (yellowed leaves with dark green veins, on newest growth first, generally in areas with alkaline soils). Apply high-nitrogen or all-nitrogen lawn-type fertilizer to any plant that is growing vigorously in your landscape, including crape myrtles, evergreen shrubs and ground covers. Most of our soils have excessive amounts of phosphorus already. Wait until September to fertilize St. Augustine to avoid gray leaf spot.
On the Lookout: St. Augustine problems of the summer include chinch bugs (dried areas in hottest, sunniest parts of lawn) — look at the interface of dying and healthy grass for small black insects with irregular white diamonds on their backs; also gray leaf spot. Nutsedge (“nutgrass”) in turf (Image or Sedgehammer, applied according to label directions). Watch closely for other insects and diseases that may crop up.