THE WEATHER THIS SUMMER HAS BEEN NUTS…First, it’s pleasantly in the 70’s, then we become parched with 90 to 100 degree days and 80% humidity, and then of course, the torrential downpours. Not only do we humans have a tough time adjusting, but our plants are struggling as well. Some plants may enter dormancy prematurely due to the substantial heat swings. You may have noticed a number of the shade trees dropping leaves, or some perennial foliage turning brown. These are all efforts to conserve energy. When you can, do try to offer additional water after one of those very hot days. After torrential rains, check to make sure everything is still draining properly. Most plants are not well adapted to having wet feet.
An unintended consequence of this crazy weather is that many plants are in bloom right now, even those normally in bloom the end of August / beginning of September.
DO YOU HAVE ANNUALS IN CONTAINERS?…These plantings will benefit from an application of Miracle Gro or Jack’s Classic 1x per week, as well as some water on a daily basis. Most only need 1x per day. If you have hanging baskets, they may need water 2x per day. They lose so much moisture due to exposure on all sides.
PLANTING IN AUGUST?…Only plant something new in August if you plan to be around to care for the new plants. For most of us, it’s best to hold off until September.
PLAN FOR YOUR FALL PLANTING NOW…Fall (Sept – Nov) is one of the best times to plant. I recommend placing your orders now before the nurseries sell out of that special plant you want. If ordering from a catalog, make sure to specify NO DELIVERY BEFORE SEPTEMBER. If spring flowering bulbs are on your list, many suppliers are offering discounts if you order now.
WEEDING AND WATERING… Just do the best you can. It’s tough to be motivated when it’s in the 90’s with high humidity.
The DROUGHT… will probably arrive in August, and we will all need to watch our water consumption. The rain we’ve been enjoying lately has helped, but much has simply run off without absorbing into the soil. I know most of us have learned to avoid watering in the evening to avoid mold and mildew developing on the foliage. When we experience extreme heat, sometimes an evening watering is actually the best way to go. At least the water will have a chance to soak into the soil without immediate evaporation by the sun. I frequently water between 6p-10p. If you have a timer, you can water at 3 or 4am. Remember, a thorough soaking for 15 – 30 minutes 2 times per week is much better than a brief spritz daily.
THISTLE…has a tap root that seems to go on forever. When pulled, you rarely get the whole plant. There is a product on the market that targets Thistle called Lontrell, available at SiteOne Landscape Supply, and others. Spray on the foliage. It will be absorbed into the root system, and kill the plant. The good news is that it does NOT seem to bother other trees and shrubs. It will damage some perennials, so do use caution when applying.
JAPANESE BEETLES…need I say more. Typically, I recommend to my clients to treat their property with grub control in the spring. This will kill the grubs (Japanese beetle larvae) that turn into the beetles that devour our vegetation. I cheat, and have a lawn company treat my lawn areas every year with a grub control. Not only will this kill the grubs, but it will also reduce your mole population since they are attracted to the grubs. If you treat your property, that’s wonderful, but if your neighbor does not, then you may still have a problem.
Unfortunately, it’s too late for that now. The beetles are here. So now, what can we do.
DO NOT purchase a Japanese Beetle Trap. They simply attract everyone’s beetles to your house.
Option 1 – Go out early in the morning with a jar of soapy water. Pluck off the beetles, and drown them in your jar. When your jar is full, and the beetles are dead, just dump into the back of the garden and start over again. Leave the jar outside so that it’s always handy.
Option 2 – Dust the foliage with Sevin Dust, available at most garden centers such as Home Depot, Lowes, Valley View Farm. One friend puts some dust in an old stocking and swings it around the foliage to be treated. Try to avoid getting the dust on your skin, in your eyes or breathing. Try to avoid getting the dust on flowers since it will kill many of our beneficial pollinators. Hibiscus syriacus / Rose-of-Sharon is one of their favorites. Unfortunately, it’s already in bloom.
Option 3 – Treating the soil with Nematodes in the Spring. Nematodes are living organisms that will kill the grubs. Go to www.gardensalive.com for reliable information.
I know this can sound daunting, but don’t be discouraged. Most of us never take care of everything. Just do what you can. It will be better than nothing. The most important thing is to take the time to enjoy the wonderful spaces you have created.
ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR SUMMER, AND ENJOY YOUR GARDENS.