In the southern states, August can be an awkward time for flower gardens. The glorious summer blooms are nearly gone after being broiled by the sun and heat for weeks on end. And despite what the garden centers may have on display, we know that it’s a bad idea to set out cool weather pansies and snapdragons now because we still have a couple months of hot summer temperatures ahead. But never fear; here are a few easy steps that anyone can do right now to perk up those late summer flower beds.
Summer annuals like petunias, pentas, marigolds and vinca are probably looking leggy and bedraggled by now. You can cut off the leggiest parts of these flowers – around 2/3 of the overall height – and give the plants a good drink of a liquid fertilizer especially formulated for flowers. In a few weeks, the plants should sport some new growth; a couple more weeks should have them blooming again with new vigor.
For an immediate burst of fresh color, look at the garden center for the toughest summer annuals like marigolds and blanket flower, and pop a few of these in the ground here and there. Keep them well watered during these hot days, and they should sport beautiful blooms up until frost.
You may have already cut back your perennials like day lilies, whispering butterflies, mums and asters; if you did, you are already seeing hearty new growth emerging and maybe even some new blooms by now. If you haven’t given the perennials a good cutting by now, it’s not too late…but don’t put off this task much longer than mid-August if you want to see a good fall showing of blooms. For more specific instructions on a mid-summer perennial trim, please read this: http://tinyurl.com/cqbryem
Weed control is never much fun, and is especially unpleasant during those hot summer days. So pick a day to get up at sunrise, don the garden gloves and goggles, and attack those weeds before it gets too hot. You may like to make this a two-session affair: during the first session, spray every weed very generously with a weed killer like Round-up. Then in two weeks, go for the second session in which you pull the dead weeds out of the beds. You need to give the weed killer a few days to do its job; then the weeds should come out of the ground without a fight.
Finally, take a good look at the mulch around your flower beds. Pine straw is a popular mulch in the south, and by this time it may look more faded and gray than its original rich deep brown from back in the spring. You have two choices here – pick up the old mulch and spread out fresh pine straw, or simply go into the beds with a rake and turn the existing mulch over. You’ll likely see that the underside of the pine straw is still a deep brown, and it won’t cost you any more than a few minutes of your time for several more months of life out of that layer of mulch.
Now take a look around at your beautiful, blooming weed-free flower beds, and enjoy the rest of the summer.