August Landscape Chores & Plant Clinic

Apalachee crapemyrtle in full bloom, Photo Credit: Gary Knox

Apalachee crapemyrtle in full bloom, Photo Credit: Gary Knox

August can be a tough month in the North Florida landscape. Heat, humidity, insects and diseases can take their toll on both the landscape and the gardener. But there are things to do now that can make a big difference in your landscape in the near future.

Now is a good time to cleanup roses for fall flower production. Disease-prone roses may need to be on a regular spray schedule for black spot and powdery mildew. Prune to remove diseased and dead shoots and prune back weak, leggy branches. An application of fertilizer is suggested for rose plants that have not been fertilized recently. Some care now can result in neglected rose plants blooming during late summer and fall. Some old fashioned and species roses will only bloom once each year.

This is an ideal time to lift daylily clumps, divide and replant them. Retain as many of the roots as possible with each division. Cut back foliage to 1/3 its original height. Prepare soil in the bed by loosening and amending it with organic matter such as compost or peat moss. Set new divisions as deep as they grew originally but no deeper.

You can force crape myrtles to flower again. Remove (deadhead) spent flowers or seedpods, pruning just the terminal seed cluster. This forces new growth and repeat flowering. It will take four to six weeks before you’ll be enjoying a second flush of blooms on your crape myrtle. This technique also works on chaste trees (Vitex). This practice may not be possible or practical on larger maturing trees.

The August plant clinic will be held Friday, August 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Fort Walton Beach at the Okaloosa County Extension building, 127 W. Hollywood Blvd.

The plant clinic provides a place and time for people to bring in samples of plants for diagnosis including weeds for identification.

Bring a fresh sample of the weed, plant, insect, etc., that you’d like diagnosed to the clinic. This may include a plant stem with several leaves, a 4-inch square of grass with roots attached, etc.

You also may bring a sample of soil for pH testing. Use a clean shovel, trowel or soil probe to collect a representative sample by taking thin slices or cores of soil to a depth of six to eight inches from ten different spots throughout the plant bed, lawn or garden. Thoroughly mix all of the small soil slices/cores together in a clean bucket. Place one to two cups of this mixture in a closable plastic bag and bring to the clinic for testing.

Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Okaloosa County, August 4, 2016

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