Dry August requires special pruning, fertilizing

The dark red canes of raspberries are the ones that have bore fruit this year and need to be pruned.

I consider August as the last month of summer. A time when the gardens are overflowing with produce and almost everything is lush and beautiful.

Late July and early August can be a bit dry due to little, if any, rainfall. There are some perennials in my gardens that tend to look a bit ragged this time of year because of the dryness and sun scorching, so I cut them back and in a few weeks am rewarded with a new flush of fresh foliage. I have done this with iris, hosta and daylilies. I do not cut back the foliage of the reblooming varieties.

Prune back spent flowers to encourage new ones. Do not cut back the flower heads that have gone to seed if you want them to reseed willy nilly in your garden. An example would be flowers such as cosmos or calendula.

This is a good time to take cuttings of annual garden plants such as coleus, impatiens and geraniums to overwinter in a warm sunny area. Dip the cut end in a dry rooting hormone then place them in moist vermiculite, perlite or potting soil.

Need more color for the spring landscape? Get your order in for spring flowering bulbs that you can plant this fall. They should be planted well before the freezing weather sets in so they can form a nice set of roots. Plant them in late September to mid October.

Something not to do this time of year is to fertilize woody plants. You do not want to encourage new growth that may not have time to mature before killing frosts arrive.

Keep your eye out for fall webworms, tent caterpillars and bagworms. Hand prune and destroy them by whatever means works for you. I like them roasted.

Prune out the raspberry and blackberry canes that bore fruit this year. They will not produce again. Do not place diseased canes in the compost pile.

Keep your eye peeled for the ornamental cabbages and kales that will be appearing in garden centers. They are a nice addition to the fall décor along with bales of straw, squashes, chrysanthemums and gourds.

In early August fall crops such as carrots, beets and cauliflower can be planted. Wait until later in the month to plant crops such as spinach, lettuce and green onions as they prefer cooler weather.

If you would like to extend your growing season of tender crops, you will need a cold frame or a hot bed. A row cover supported by wire hoops works well also. It’s a good idea to get that around now so you’re not scurrying around because of a surprise cold spell.

As always, happy gardening!

Karen Weiland is an advanced Master Gardener.More information about gardening and related subjects is available online at hort.purdue.edu/ext/garden_pubs.html. The Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service can be reached at 499-6334 in LaGrange County, 636-2111 in Noble County, 925-2562 in DeKalb County and 668-1000 in Steuben County.

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