Timely Tips – August 2013
Plant: Fall vegetables. For most of state, plant beans, cucumbers, squash from seeds first week of August, followed by transplants of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts mid-month and leafy and root crops from seed late in month. Gardeners in South Texas can move those dates later by two weeks. Fall annual color from vigorous 4-inch potted transplants. Fall-flowering perennials and fall-flowering bulbs as they become available in local retail nurseries this month. Trees, shrubs, vines and groundcovers can be planted from containers, but you will have to commit to hand-watering them every couple of days to keep them vigorous the remainder of the season. It’s a good time to buy crape myrtles, while they’re still blooming, to be sure you’re getting the color you want.
Prune: Bush roses early in August. Trim by one-third (less severe than the mid-February pruning that starts the season) to encourage fall growth and bloom. Summer-flowering perennials to remove spent flower stalks and browned foliage. Erratic growth from shrubs, but save major pruning for late winter. Some annuals such as copper plants, trailing lantanas, coleus, wax begonias and others will benefit from a light shearing or shaping to remove erratic shoots.
Fertilize: Apply iron additive with sulfur soil acidifier to chlorotic plants showing yellowed leaves with dark green veins, most prominent on the newest growth. Keep iron products off masonry surfaces that could be stained. Container plants, including patio pots and hanging baskets with water-soluble, high-nitrogen plant food. Daily waterings quickly leach nutrients out of the soil. It might be wise to postpone other normal August feedings into early September, when more favorable conditions will hopefully return.
On the Lookout: Brown margins on leaves of plants usually indicate some form of moisture stress. For example, Japanese maples need shade and moist, highly organic soils. Absent any one of those, you’ll see a great deal of moisture stress and marginal burn by this time of year. Do what you can to correct it in any of your plants, both this year and in future years. If internal leaves of trees and shrubs are turning yellow or brown, that’s most likely moisture stress and not some type of disease. As you are allowed, water deeply to see if these problems subside. Pecans should be protected from hickory shuckworms and pecan weevils with early August application of Malathion, but only if a crop of pecans is expected. Repeat the application in late August. Prune webworms out of pecans, walnuts, persimmon and other host trees as they appear. Long-handled pole pruners work best. Sprays are difficult to apply and, therefore, not highly effective.