By Bob Morrison

Water!    Water!  and  Water some more!

During the early August, the temperatures continue to be very high, rain is intermittent and localized = inadequate.  Most plants require generous watering to survive. Wait until a plant show signs of wilt and then water deeply and thoroughly. 


  • Boost flower power – remove faded flowers to encourage annuals to produce more blooms.
  • Deadheading also encourages some perennials to bloom again – such as coreopsis, purple coneflower, Rudbeckia, phlox, Shasta daisies, and black-eyed Susan. 
  • Freshen up your containers with the TOP10 SUMMER BLOOMERS:petunias, impatiens, cosmos, asters, marigolds, dusty miller, canna, cockscomb, dahlia, and nasturtiums.
  • Container gardens are also probably in need of some sprucing up. Give them a dose of liquid fertilizer if you have not done so in a few weeks. Cut back leggy stems.
Pruning + Fertilizing:
  • Cut back annuals like impatiens, vinca, and petunias to encourage fall bloom 
  • Cut off the green seedpods from your crepe myrtles early this month usually encourages a second bloom in September.
  • Dahlias will perk up with cooler temperatures. This would be a good time to do a little fertilizing, pruning and reinforcing supports on tall varieties.
  • Have you sprayed the rose bushes for black spot recently? Hybrid teas can also have one last dose of fertilizer early in August to encourage some fall blooms.
  • Give azaleas an application of cottonseed meal. Pinching out tips of new swigs on azaleas between now and August 15th will give increased bloom next winter/spring.
  • Do not prune spring-flowering shrubs and hedges because buds are starting to form now.
  • HOLD OFF on major pruning other shrubs and trees until after frost or late winter. Pruning now stimulates tender new growth that can be killed by the first hard frost.
  • Check hanging baskets daily in the summer. Wind and sun dry them out much more quickly than plants in other kinds of containers.
  • When watering the garden pay particular attention to azaleas and camellias which are forming buds for next year.
  • Tropicals (canna, banana, gingers) typically love moisture – be generous!
  • Sow pansy seeds, dwarf nasturtiums, and various other annuals such as balsam and zinnia for fall bloom
  • Provide support for climbing plants, and tie in the shoots as they grow.

Vegetables & Herbs

  • Frequent rain showers invite fungus diseases like early blight and late blight on tomatoes  and mildews on squash and cucumbers. Apply fungicides every 1 to 2 weeks to maintain healthy plants.


  • Organic gardeners may want to try Serenade (Bacillus subtilis) or a copper or sulfur spray.


  • It may sound weird with summer in full swing; however, now is the time to set out starter plants of cool-weather veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage for a fall harvest.


  • Sow seeds for lettuce, kale, spinach turnips and beets. Keep seedbeds consistently moist as seedlings emerge.


  • The biggest challenges with fall vegetables are insect control and watering in August and September.


  • Regular applications of B.t. (Bacillus thuringiensis) will prevent the caterpillars from devouring everything in the cabbage family.


  • Practice good sanitation. Remove spent plants from the garden as soon as harvest is complete. Also remove diseased plants as soon as possible.


  • Herbs are generally pest free. However, they sometimes get red spider mites and white fly. Infected plants can be sprayed with tepid soapy water.


  • Cut back basil, mint and oregano to keep them compact, encourage new foliage growth and prevent these herbs from blooming and going to seed.


  • Check cucumbers, squash and green beans daily….fruit matures quickly and is best harvested while young and tender.


  • Keep a record of what is planted where and what varieties you grew. You will need this information next year for crop rotation.


  • Mow fescue and bluegrass lawns three (3) inches high. Shorter grass will become drought-stressed and will be more subject to weeds.


  • Water lawns any time it shows signs of stress – bluish-gray tint in color, foot-prints remaining when you walk on it, and wilted, curled or folded leaves.


  • Late August is recommended by the Mid-South colleges of agriculture as the best time to sow a new lawn provided the ground has been kept free from weeds this summer.


Wasp on flower

Yellow Jacket Wasps
  • Everyone hates stinging yellow jackets when they swarm around anyone holding a soft drink, cocktail, or beer. These wasps nest underground. When you see them streaming to and from a spot near the ground take note because that’s where their nest is. Return after dark when all the wasps are inside. Direct spray from a can of wasp-and-hornet killer into the entry hole. It will kill on contact. 


  • Never fertilize when the temperatures are above 85º. If you are using any side-dressing fertilizers, such as 5-10-5, it is even more important to wait for more suitable weather


  • ALWAYS READ THE LABEL – Take a fresh look at the label is important whenever using garden insecticides – whether chemical or organic. Labels tell you what disease, insects or weeds will be controlled, where the product may be used, and any safety precautions.
  • If you are going to be away from home for more than a one week arrange to have the garden watered and the grass mowed.  .