♦ Take root cuttings of woody shrubs and evergreens (such as azaleas, holly, and hydrangeas) to propagate.
♦ Powdery mildew diseases attack a great many ornamentals, most often in late summer when the days are warm, and nights are cool. Some mildews, particularly those on roses, apples, and cherries, also are increased by high humidity. Prevention by proper cultural techniques is the first defense. Grow resistant varieties; space and prune plants to improve air flow and reduce shading; water early in the day and at the base rather than on leaves; and reduce nitrogen applications to avoid excessive, late-season growth.
♦ Water shrubs deeply once a week during August. Many plants including camellias and rhododendrons are forming buds for next season’s bloom at this time. Do not prune or you will be removing the flower buds. Immature berries of hollies may drop if the plants are water stressed. During hot, dry August days, avoid deep cultivation in your flower beds. Loosening the soil under these conditions reduces water uptake by increasing loss of soil water and damaging surface roots. Plants often look much worse after cultivation than before.
♦ Water roses with at least 1” of water per week. Remove spent blooms (deadheading) to encourage quicker rebloom. Prune 1/4” above an outward facing five-leaflet eye. Watch for spider mites on the underside of the upper leaves. A blast of water from underneath will discourage them. Continue fertilizing once a month for both August and September.
Fruits and Vegetables
♦ Strawberries, blueberries, and bramble fruits are forming buds for next year’s crop; keep them watered for better fruit bud production.
♦ Fertilize strawberries in August. On plants set out this spring, apply 4-6 oz. of ammonium nitrate (33% actual nitrogen) or 12-18 oz. of 10-10-10 per feet of row. Spread the fertilizer uniformly in a band 14” wide over the row when foliage (not the ground) is dry. Brush fertilizer off leaves to avoid leaf burn. For plants in the second year of growth, increase application rate fruits and vegetables to 6-8 oz. ammonium nitrate or 18-24 oz. of 10-10-10 per 25 feet of row.
♦ Heavy rains at harvest can dilute the sugars in melons. Watermelons can re-concentrate sugar if left on the vine for a few dry days, but cantaloupes cannot.
♦ Harvest cantaloupes when the melons pull easily from the stem. honeydews when the blossom end is slightly soft or springy. Harvest watermelons when there is a hollow sound when thumped and skin loses its shine. Also, run your hand around the middle of the watermelon. When fully ripe, most varieties develop low, longitudinal ridges, rather like flexed calf muscles.
♦ Start seeds of cool-weather vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, and lettuce to transplant to the garden in early September.
♦ White fly may be a serious problem this month on tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and squash. There is no effective preventive measure, so it is important to control the population before they increase to damaging levels. Hang sticky yellow strips among your plants to trap these pests.
Plant bush beans now for your fall crop. Watch out for insects, such as Mexican bean beetle.
♦ If going on vacation this month, be sure to harvest all your vegetables and then arrange for someone to pick fast maturing crops, such as squash and okra; otherwise, they will become over mature and stop producing.
♦ Spider mites leave webs on the underside of leaves, and eggs are laid in these webs. Spider mites thrive in hot, dry weather. For mild infestations hose the foliage to wash off the mites. For severe problems, spray with an approved chemical according to the label. The best remedy for spider mites on plants is a good, heavy rainfall.
♦ Water your plants several hours before applying pesticides, especially during dry weather. Drought-stressed plants have less water in their plant tissues. The chemicals that enter the leaves will be more concentrated and may burn the leaves.
♦ The last two weeks of August is the time to spray kudzu with a non-selective weed killer or mow all visible foliage since it is at its weakest at this time.