If your lawn is in good shape, give it a dressing of lawn food late in the month of August. Water it down or apply it in a liquid form through the hose.
Remember water evaporates this time of year so water deeply and thoroughly. Always use a mulch where possible.
Spray your roses with an insecticide/fungicide weekly if you have frequent rains.
Lilies like to have their roots fairly cool, especially during the hot weather. Unless they are shaded by some sort of foliage, mulch the ground around them with your preferred mulch.
Do not mulch oriental poppies. They prefer hot sun baked ground when resting.
Feed and cultivate peonies now for next year’s blooms. Many gardeners choose to use a liquid fertilizer on them all during the spring and summer and that’s fine. I always used the same fertilizer in a sprayer that I use on roses and other perennials. The one I have preferred is the bottle of Miracle Grow attached to a hose. I have told you before, I take the easy road at every opportunity.
If you are growing Strawflowers for winter dried bouquets, cut the blooms before they are fully open. Dry them in the shade, hanging head downward in small, uncrowded bunches. In handling them, be careful not to crack the stems near the blossoms.
Use wood ashes around phlox, asters and cosmos. In using ashes, do not pile too much at one time or the “goodness” will wash away and be wasted. Just sprinkle a little on the ground near the roots.
Nothing will give as definite and as beautiful mass effects in the garden in August as hardy or perennial phlox if it is well grown.
The secret of beautiful phlox culture lies in a few conditions: full sun and deep cultivation to make them grow tall, plenty of moisture at the roots, especially in droughts and preventing flowers from going to seed. Plants need to be divided about every three years. Never leave more than four or five stalks to a plant. They need to be grown in groups to make a great display. Four or five plants in a grouping isn’t too many. Three is fairly good. They look best, I think, in a grouping of just one color. Cut each stalk to the ground when finished blooming.
Many growers complain that the fine color of Tall Garden Phlox turns to a magenta that’s less than desirable. This is caused by the parent stock dying of crowding or starvation and being replaced by seedlings which seldom, if ever, come true to the parent color and are usually poor bloomers. To transplant them, divide in late August (four or five stalks to the clump) using the outside pieces. Have the soil thoroughly enriched (compost, rotted manure), deeply dug and conditioned.
Once you have gotten the basics of caring for the beautiful Tall Garden Phlox, you will find it amazingly easy and so, so satisfying. I even like the rosy color of the ones that are not the true phlox. Remember your grandmother’s phlox? I put them somewhere in the back yard where I can see them but where they won’t be compared to the lovely colors of the parent.
This is something that should be written down somewhere for every rose grower: do not, I say do not, add any quick-acting fertilizer to roses in August. It’s too late. You could use a light dusting of bone meal raked in just before mulch is applied. The reason is that you will get too much new growth in roses and that will be killed off in the first frost.
The wise gardener who wants bulbs for fall planting orders them early, like now! The stock of some varieties is sure to be limited and only the early comers can be served.
Don’t forget to water your compost pile. If you don’t have one, this is a good time to start one. It’s a wonderful place for potato peelings, peach peelings, coffee grounds, corn cobs and shucks, melon rinds, etc. But best of all, it’s a good place to put all the dead blooms and all the stalks when you straighten up your flower beds.
(I have met some very nice readers lately who have called with comments, especially about my Ma. Ma and I thank you. You can reach me at 270-522-3632, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Ronella Stagner, 137 Main St., Cadiz, KY 42211.)