"Gardening Tips for August in the Texas Coastal Bend" by Kitty Angell

Since we are in the part of summer that places the most stress on plants and turf grass, now is a good time to get out the garden journal, walk around the yard and make notes for future planting. Your shadow is the best way to facilitate the ongoing progress of your landscape. Consistently look over the turf and plants to see if pests, fungus, or other garden interlopers have begun to affect all your hard work. Make notes on what you see, including ideas for future plantings, better arrangement of plants, what needs to be replaced, and overgrown plants that need to be pruned in the fall. Take into consideration family and pet activities and make adjustments to the garden layout for next year.

If you are looking for ideas to enhance the beauty of your garden, come to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Center, 892 Airport Rd., Rockport, Texas, Wednesday and Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00a.m. You’ll see many varieties of plants and pocket gardens to precipitate ideas for integrating them into your own gardens.

Mow Tall! Setting your mower blade on the highest level is more important than ever because the heat beats down on your turf and dries it out quickly, especially with water rationing.

August is the month to divide spring-flowering plants such as iris, Shasta daisy, oxeye, gaillardia, cannas, day lilies, violets, liriope, and ajuga. Plant bluebonnets and other spring wildflowers this month. They must germinate in late summer or early fall to develop good root systems. Plant the seeds in well-prepared soil, one-half inch deep, and water thoroughly. 

Pick dead blooms on annuals frequently to encourage them to flower more abundantly. By the end of the month start selecting potted plants of perennials such as autumn asters, chrysanthemums, and ornamental salvias for excellent fall color. Once they have bloomed; make them permanent occupants of the flower bed. 

If your want a large showy shrub in your yard, you might want to consider Lilac Chaste Tree (Vitex). Mimicking lilacs grown in cooler regions, Vitex is a good candidate for planting in a xeric garden, where hot, dry surroundings prevail. It does best in full sun with well-drained soil. A member of the Vervain family, Vitex attracts butterflies. It blooms from May to September and can be propagated from cuttings in summer or winter.

Image Courtesy of Texas SuperStar Program,
Texas AgriLife Extension Service
August is also the last month to plant palm trees, which will need time to get established before it gets cold. The heat makes this a BAD time to plant or prune other types of trees. Check to see if any limbs on your established trees need trimming. Mark them with flagging tape now, while the leaves are still on the trees. It will make it easier to know which limbs to prune during the dormant season. Vegetable transplants like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants can be set out. Be sure to provide late afternoon shade for best results. Start sowing seeds for fall transplants. By starting now, you can have lettuce, flowering cabbage, cauliflower, flowering kale, broccoli, collards, Swiss chard, cabbage, and Chinese cabbage. 

Seeded vegetables are tricky to get up in the heat of summer. The soil will often form a crust on the soil surface after tillage and watering. This “crust” can hinder tender seedlings from breaking through. Before sowing, use your garden hose to thoroughly soak the bottom of the seed furrow with water. Then sow the seed. Finally, cover the seed to the proper depth with dry soil and firm it. The seed should stay moist until germination. A ground soaker system is the best method for watering.
This is a bad time to plant roses and shrubs. A late-summer pruning of rose bushes is recommended. Inspect the bushes thoroughly and prune out dead canes and any weak, brushy growth. Cut back tall, vigorous bushes to about thirty inches. After you prune, fertilize and water well. Climbers and some varieties of heirloom roses, that bloom on growth made the year before and bloom prolifically in spring and early summer should be left alone. Prune now only if absolutely necessary. These types should have been pruned earlier in the summer. If a preventative disease control program has been maintained, your rose bushes should be ready to provide an excellent crop of flowers this fall!
Kitty Angell is a Aransas/San Patricio Master Gardener. Thank you for sharing your expertise with the Network, Kitty!


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