August is not a favorite month for many gardeners. It’s hot and dry, and some plants are starting to show real stress. Fall is just around the corner and now is a good time to get the late summer chores done and prepare for a busy fall season. Cut back perennials and roses first to stimulate more abundant fall blooms. When the plants are healthy, prune them back slightly – remove up to 25%. If plants are stressed or pest attacked but well established, cut back harder – about 50%, or enough to remove the damaged foliage.
For those with pecan trees who want a good harvest of nuts this year, consider treating pecan beetles. If there’s a history of pecans that are a good size but empty inside and have an exit hole, pecan insects are the cause. They usually appear in August, and homeowners can apply an insecticide such as carbaryl or bifenthrin to the trunk every 10 days during the second half of August to prevent core damage.
For the vegetable garden, plants such as beans, corn, cucumbers, aubergines, peppers, pumpkins, potatoes (do not cut pieces of seeds, plant whole) and tomatoes (large transplants). Prepare the soil by incorporating compost and use drip irrigation and mulch to help the plants survive the heat and conserve water.
There are still many questions about trees that were damaged in the winter storm. If there are no or very few leaves at this point (less than 25% of the canopy is peeled or only the stem has sprouts), the Texas Forest Service recommends planning for removal. When about 50% of the canopy is peeled off, there is a chance for recovery – wait and see what the tree looks like next year.
The abundant rainfall in early summer caused many tree saplings such as mulberry, hackberry, pecan and mesquite to emerge. Catch them early and remove them to avoid a bigger problem later – don’t leave seedling trees in flower beds too close to the house or anywhere where a large tree is not desired.
August is a good time of year to start sowing wildflower seeds. Join us on Friday August 13 for a Lunch N Learn session hosted by the People / Plant Connection on Planting Wildflowers. For information call 325-656-3104 or visit www.peopleplantconnection.org.
Allison Watkins is the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agent for the horticultural sector in Tom Green County. Contact them at email@example.com.