Plant Answers  >  Gardening Calendar: July/August

Gardening Calendar


Plant: Plant: For summer color and fall beauty, plant Texas' tough annuals and heat-loving tropicals in beds and containers. To brighten a landscape in the heat of the summer, plant lantana, bougainvillea, mandevilla vine, allamanda, hibiscus, salvia, periwinkle, marigold, zinnia, portulaca, purslane, copper plant, and Bush Morning Glory. Start over in the vegetable garden. The new 'Tomato444' can be used but is not technically a heat-setting variety so some late cold protection may be required to produce vine-ripened fruit if unusual weather conditions occur. Diffuse sunlight on young seedlings and transplants and protect them from pest damage until well established by using a cloth covering such as GrowWeb, Plant Shield or Plant Guard. A complete description about how this is helpful can be found at:

Other popular vegetable crops to plant in August for fall production are beans, sweet corn, cucumber, eggplant, lima beans, black-eye peas, peppers, and squash. A complete listing of what to plant for fall and when to plant it can be found on the website PLANTanswers at:
Remember when laying new sod, roll the turf to insure good soil-root contact and water thoroughly on a daily basis until the grass is established -- in a week or 10 days. Bermuda grass can be seeded (August is the last chance to plant bermuda grass seed) now; use some of the hybrid bermuda grass seed such as Sahara or Cheyenne. Windmill palm, Mexican fan palm and Sabal palm are especially well-adapted to this area, and now is a good time to plant them. Palms require warm soil to establish their root systems.

Prune: Roses (except climbing varieties) should be pruned early August to insure fall bloom. Remove one third of the bush with old canes, dead canes, spent bloom stems comprising the majority removed. More about roses and the fall pruning of roses can be found on the website PLANTanswers at site:

in the "Pruning roses" section under "Steps to Pruning Roses - Fall"

This will stimulate vigorous new growth and abundant fall blooms.

Keep tree pruning to a minimum during summer especially on oaks. However, if the weather is hot and dry, oak pruning can be done without fear of oak wilt disease since disease spores will not be present. Vigorous-growing shrubs such as pyracantha, photinia, elaeagnus, privet or ligustrum may need to be pruned regularly to keep them within bounds. Trim back overgrown or leggy spring"planted annuals such as petunias and impatiens to encourage new flushes of growth and renewed flower production. Add two pounds of a slow release fertilizer such as 19-5-9 per 100 square feet after pruning. Vigorous growth on hedges of photinia, privet or elaeagnus should be pruned as needed.

Fertilize: Fertilize hanging baskets and other containerized plants regularly with a water-soluble fertilizer. If you failed to make a second application of fertilizer to your lawn in June and moisture is available, do so now. Use a 3-1-2 or 4-1-2 formula of a slow-release fertilizer such as 19-5-9 or 15-5-10. Water thoroughly after application. Iron deficiency (chlorosis) can show up in many landscape and garden plants at this time of year. Look for yellowed leaves with characteristic darker green veins. Frequent applications of iron sulfate (Copperas) as foliar or applications to mulching materials may he needed to correct this deficiency. Green Sand can also be used and is effective. Lower leaves in the interiors of trees and shrubs may turn yellow and drop. This is caused by heat and dry weather stress, and is no cause for alarm.

On the Lookout: Insects to watch for include white flies, spider mites, webworms, tent caterpillars, aphids and grasshoppers. Symptoms of chinch bug damage can appear anytime in healthy St. Augustine lawns. Look for dry, burned-looking patches in the hottest parts of the lawn. Control with any contact insecticide. Left unchecked, these sucking insects can destroy large patches of turf. Abnormal swellings on plant foliage or other plant parts may be a sign of galls. These are only curiosities, cannot be prevented and cause serious damage. Trees and shrubs may experience some leaf drop this time of year, caused by summer's heat and dry weather stress. There is nothing which can be done except mulch and hope for cooler weather. Fall webworms may appear on pecan, mulberry, ash, persimmon, and other trees. The biological spray Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) provides control but a new, longer-lasting fungal metabolite is now available. It is an insect nerve agent named Spinosad and sold as Fertilome Borer, Bagworm, Leafminer, and Tent Caterpillar Spray (8 Fluid Ounces for $8.98). It is also labeled for use on fireants. Spinosad is sold as mail-order from Gardens Alive as Bulls-Eye BioInsecticide.

Odd Jobs: Give special attention to water requirement of leafy garden plants such as coleus, caladiums and elephant ears during hot, sunny periods. Mulch heavily. Maintain a heavy (two to four inches) mulch throughout your landscape and gardens to reduce water needs and eliminate weeding. Water plants when needed and not according to the calendar or day of the week. Water (soak) thoroughly rather than applying frequent light sprinklings. Install a drip or trickle irrigation system in your vegetable and flower gardens to make watering more efficient and less time-consuming. Convert sections of your landscape into low maintenance areas with "hardscaping" such as bark, gravel and wood decking. Mulch, Mulch, Mulch! For more information about mulching and the benefits derived from mulching, see the PLANTanswers website at:

· Keep rose bushes cleaned out to help prevent fungus and insect problems.
· Wash the bottom side of foliage on rose bushes with Liquid Seaweed or a miticide to keep them fresh and control spider mites.
· Fertilize roses with a complete rose food to help encourage blooming.
· Fertilize caladiums with 21-0-0 at the rate of 1/3-1/2 lb. per 100 square feet of bed. Water it in.
· Pick flowers frequently to encourage annuals to flower even more.
· Deadhead spent flowers on annuals and perennials to encourage more blooms.
· Plant zinnias which are among the easiest annuals to grow from seed.
· Plant bluebonnet and other spring-flowering wildflowers. They must germinate in late summer or early fall to develop good root systems and be ready to grow in spring when the warmer weather comes. Sow seeds and rake them into a shallow layer of soil. Keep them moist until they sprout. For additional information, see:

Fruits and Nuts
· Water fruit trees with one inch of water over the drip line per week until the fruit are harvested.
· Take out the old canes in the blackberries to make way for the new ones next spring.

Shade Trees and Shrubs
When you prune, take out the dead, damaged or diseased limbs first. People needs come second or third or fourth or fifth. It's best to do your pruning in January or February.

Turf Grass
· Set your lawnmower height at the highest level while it's hot. 3 ½ - 4 inches for St. Augustine.
· Only if you can see your footprints in the grass should you water the lawn. Water deeply.
· If you see dead areas in the St. Augustine, check for grubs and chinch bugs. To check for grubs, dig a hole a foot square and about 5-6 inches deep. If you find more than 3 grubs in the soil, apply an approved insecticide. Chinch bugs like the hottest part of the yard; like beside driveways and sidewalks. Cut the top and bottom out of a coffee can. Push it down into the soil about an inch and then fill it with water. If little bugs float up, they're usually chinch bugs. Apply an approved insecticide.

· Remove spent tomatoes, beans, and other veggies. They serve as disease and insect hosts now.
· Prepare for fall gardening. Add about 2-3 inches of compost and 3-4 pounds (cups) of 19-5-9 slow release fertilizer every 100 square feet to the veggie beds and till in.
· Continue to harvest and enjoy herbs.

Drink plenty of water, use sunscreen, and work in the gardens early in the morning or late in the evening. Take plenty of breaks and don't get overheated. Just relax and enjoy the fruits of your labors.


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