August 2003

Ground rules and tools for gardening in month of August

August 7, 2003
Victoria County Master Gardener

This month I would like to share a few thoughts about the damage and destruction brought about by Hurricane Claudette.

Sadly, the trees bore the brunt of the damage, and many old and beautiful specimens were gravely damaged or ripped from the ground. While we cannot repair such severe damage, we can learn to look at our space with a different focus.

Some of the elements of your garden will remain the same; some will have to be changed to protect the surviving plants. Consider how the change in the environment that is your garden affects the plants that live there.

While August is always a busy month in the garden, this August may be busier still, due to the cleanup and recovery efforts after the hurricane. If your trees were damaged or destroyed, thus allowing more direct light on your garden, take some time to watch the sun and assess the light in your garden at different times of the day. Often, what will grow well in deep shade, or dappled shade, will not survive in full sun. Plants in full sun will likely require more water. You may have to resort to more heat-tolerant plants. This could be a wonderful opportunity to investigate native plants.

On the bright side, however, what could be happier than a full bed of Zinnias in summer or that same bed clad in Rocket Larkspur in spring? Research the possibilities available to you. I'm sure you will be pleased with the different landscape you can create in the sun.

Did I say August is busy? August is really, really busy - sowing flower seeds, dividing spring blooming plants, pruning rose bushes and planting fall vegetables.

In August, sow seeds of snapdragons, sweet William, calandulas, and pansies in flats for planting in the ground in the fall.

Divide plants that flower in the spring, such as irises, Shasta daisy, ox-eye daisy, cannas, daylilies, violets, liriopes and ajugas.

Prune rose bushes now for a spectacular fall bloom. Prune canes that are dead, diseased, damaged or dinky. Cut back to about 2 1/2 feet tall, fertilize, and water thoroughly.

Stop pinching asters, mums, and poinsettias. Let them bloom.

Set out transplants of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in the second week of August. Provide afternoon shade. Cedar shingles work well for this. Just stick them in the ground to shade the transplants.

Plant seeds of green beans, snap beans, lima beans, sweet corn, cucumber and squash.

Plant seed potatoes. Cut potatoes and dip in sulfur. Allow to dry at least three days before planting.

Apply the last pecan spray of an approved insecticide and fungicide to protect foliage against disease and pests.

In the last week of August, sow seeds of cornflower, larkspur, snapdragon, sweet alyssum, wallflower, baby's breath, blanket flower, browallia, bluebonnet, calendula, candytuft and delphinium in the ground. Most of these can be sown through October.

Plants such as caladium and fruit and berry producers should not be allowed to dry out. If you are going to have those pretty red berries in the winter, you have to water now. Hollies will often drop their berries in drought conditions.

This August, in particular, will be busy. Do what is necessary to nurture your garden after the storm. And make it fun.

Please send questions to: