It is much too early for any break in the heat. The summer rains have been spotty and my house has received little rain in the past few weeks. That means our summer chores continue. Keep the work session short and early in the day to minimize staying out in the unbearable heat.
August is a busy month for gardeners. If you want to add some new plants here are a few suggestions.
Brighten your beds with annual color using coleus, impatiens, kalanchoe, marigold, melampodium, ornamental pepper, portulaca, salvia, torenia, vinca, wax begonia or zinnia. If you're after something more permanent, try perennials such as African iris, salvias, butterfly weed, chrysanthemum, false dragon head, four o'clock, gaillardia, gloriosa daisy, jacobinia, pentas, ruellia or verbena.
There are also a few vegetables you can add now including pole beans, broccoli, celery, collards, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, onions, pepper, pumpkin, Southern peas, turnips and watermelon.
Add flavor to your garden and cooking with basil, ginger, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme.
The tomatoes in my raised bed gave out, but I am getting flowers on the ones planted in the Topsy Turvy Planter. We'll see if the fruit develops.
There are a few bulbs that perform well in the Florida garden and add some interest. Try aztec lily, butterfly lily, clivia, crinum, gladiolus, iris, moraea, society garlic, spider lily and walking iris.
The rain has been intermittent at best where I live, so remember if you add new plant materials, you'll have to make sure they have an adequate supply of water until well-established.
This is a great time to add organic matter to the soil. Grass clippings, manure, leaves and compost are excellent soil amendments. It's best to till the materials into the soil, but adding a top dressing (spreading the organic materials around your plants) is also helpful.
If you've had areas in your garden where soil-borne pests seem to be a problem, solarize that area now. Cover the area with plastic, and let the heat from the sun kill the pests. This is very helpful, especially if you plant a vegetable garden in the same area season after season.
Keep your annuals, perennials and flowering shrubs in top form by pinching or pruning off spent flowers. This encourages the production of more blooms.
If you have roses in your landscape, spray them for black spot disease. Symptoms of this disease are dark, round spots with yellow halos followed by dropping leaves. Remove infected leaves. Avoid wetting the foliage during irrigation. This will limit the problem. This is also a good time to groom your roses. Remove dead and dying twigs and reduce the length of excessively long canes. Neaten your plants, but do not do a major pruning. Watch out for mites also.
Fertilize outdoor potted plants. Soluble fertilizers diluted to half strength can be applied every week or two, or add a slow-release fertilizer once or twice during the summer.
Your lawn should be looking better by now. If not, bugs may be the problem. Mole crickets like Bahia, Bermuda and St. Augustine turf. Chinch bugs are probably active in St. Augustine. Watch all lawns for sod webworm chewing.
You might need to resort to a chemical control. If so, check the product carefully and make sure it is formulated for your type of lawn. And be sure to follow label directions.
Fungus is more prevalent this year, so you may need to treat for this. Fungicide for turf can be purchased in liquid or granular forms at the big box stores. If you are buying sod, make sure it is free of fungus.
This is a good time to transplant or plant palms. Palm roots grow best in warm, moist soils so the summer months encourage a strong root system to take shape. Applying magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) to palms at a rate of 1 to 5 pounds, depending on the size of the palm, will green them up.
Keep up with your chores so you can move into the fall season with ease.
Mary Collister can be reached at email@example.com.