August Garden Tips

August
  
Plant any tree, shrub, palm or groundcover. Vegetables are limited to cherry tomato, pepper and okra. Annuals tolerant of heat include amaranthus, torenia, vinca, zinnia, coleus, cosmos and marigold. Keep mulch 1-2 inches away from all plant stems.
   
Inspect trees at the beginning of the month for pruning work. August, September and October are the big hurricane months with the peak of the season activity on Sept.10. Cut back poinsettias before the end of August for the last time in order to ensure good winter color. 

Weeds and insects typically go crazy this month. Chinchbugs, scale, mealybugs, thrips, caterpillars, sod webworms, etc. are on the prowl. Co-exist with them unless damage gets to unacceptable levels. Chinchbugs can be detected by pouring soapy water where good and bad grass meet. After pouring the water, observe the grass for a few minutes. Chinchbugs and other insects will come to the surface. Adults are small black insects with white patches on the wings. Use Dursban around the bad grass patch in a band about 4 feet wide.NOTE* Dursban has been banned from the market.  See Pests and Pesticides for alternative . Citrus, croton, avocado and mango are susceptible to spider mites and thrips. Discourage them with a strong jet of water from a hose directed to the undersides of the leaves. Hibiscus, citrus, palms, gardenia and ixora are susceptible to scale and mealybug. Treat with Orthene or Safer's insecticidal soap 

 
Green Thoughts: We all have planted the wrong tree in the wrong place -- too wide, too tall, too bare. But when a tree grows into 

power lines, the electric company. sends its crews to clear the lines. Ugly V-shaped or one-sided trees are often the result. Get smart and order "Plant the Right Tree in the Right Place," a free booklet from Florida Power & Light Co. To order, call 305-442-8770 in Dade County, 954-797-5000 in Broward County, 561-697-8000 in Palm Beach County. 

PLANT OF THE MONTH
Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)
Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica)

Crape myrtle is a longtime favorite with southern gardeners. The big clusters of bloom remind us of lilacs in the North. The large trusses come in pink, red, white, and purple shades as well as bicolor. Most of the flowers are not fragrant, but a few hybrids like `Natchez' have a pleasing light odor. Bloom period is from May to October. These large shrubs or small trees grow to 20 feet and are multiseason plants that offer showy flowers, attractive bark, red to yellow fall leaf color and an interesting growth habit. All this would be plenty for the average gardener, but South Floridians demand year-round foliage. Unfortunately, crape myrtles are semi-bare from January to April. They leaf out very late in the spring, and sometimes people think they are dead. Remember this before you dig the plants out. Think carefully where you place the crape myrtle because of its deciduous nature. Queen crape myrtle is a similar but much larger and more tropical relative. The most common flower color is purple, but a nice pink form is sometimes seen. The tree can grow to 30 feet or more, and the big leaves turn an attractive red in late fall. It is deciduous for a shorter time than the regular crape myrtle but does not flower as long. Bloom time is usually from May to September. If you are growing the regular crape myrtle, try to use the national arboretum selections from Washington, D.C. They have Indian names and are resistant to powdery mildew, a fungal disease that ruins the flowers and affects the foliage. These selections often have a longer blooming period than others on the market. Names to look for include Acoma, Biloxi, Comanche, Hopi, Lipan, Miami, Muskogee, Natchez, Osage, Sioux, Tuskegee, Yuma and Zuni. 
 

  • Origin Southern Asia and Australia 
  • Foliage Oval pointed green leaves 
  • Growth rate Medium 
  • Nutritional requirements Not fussy 
  • Soil requirements Wide 
  • Salt tolerance Low 
  • Drought tolerance High 
  • Light requirements High 
  • Propagation Seed 
  • Major problems Powdery mildew, root rot, aphids 
  • Environmental problems None 


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Index
September