August has taken its toll on many of our plants. Foliage may look dry and shriveled, and sometimes it has gone dormant prematurely. All are measures taken by the plant to survive the heat with relatively low rainfall. Unfortunately, we are still in a drought, so please continue to water as regularly as you can. The shallow rooted evergreens may not have drooping leaves, but I can assure you they are feeling the stress just as much as your hydrangeas.
REMOVE DAMAGED FOLIAGE…Many summer stressed perennials will perk up during these fall months. If you remove the old foliage, it will look like a brand new plant. When sprucing things up for the fall, keep in mind the effect you want during the winter months. The black seed heads of Rudbeckia are quite striking against the snow, and the foliage of ornamental grasses is graceful blowing in the wind. Dormant foliage will also provide another layer of insulation against the cold. It is your personal taste that matters the most.
PLANTING…This is also a perfect time to install new plants. Though most should be planted before November, there are quite a few deciduous trees and shrubs that can be planted in November or December.
PRUNING…Early September is also a good time for pruning trees and shrubs that bloom on new wood. The new growth encouraged by pruning will have sufficient time to harden off before the winter cold settles in our area. Plants that bloom in the spring on the previous season’s growth should be left alone until after blooming in the spring. Most notably, this group includes Lilac, Viburnum, Spirea, and most of the spring flowering trees. If you are unsure, please send me an email, and I’ll be happy to advise which group applies.