Tending the Garden Now

Removing spent flowers is very important in large flowering annuals to keep them blooming.

Once a stalk of ginger lily finishes blooming, remove it to the ground to encourage new growth of smaller stalks that will bloom, if we have a late first freeze.

Hydrangeas whose blooms are finished may be removed immediately or left on while they still look good, like this Annabelle bloom.

With a break in the August heat, now is the time to prepare the garden for fall. Here are some things I am currently doing in my garden.

  • Zinnias, large flowered marigolds, tithonia, petunias and other summer annuals need to have their spent blooms removed to encourage a flush of fall blooms.
  • My ginger lilies, because of all the rain, are out of bounds this year. After each stalk’s last bloom dies, I cut them to the ground. Oftentimes small new scapes will appear and set buds. Whether they bloom or not is dependent on the timing of the first freeze.
  • All of my florist (mop-head) and oakleaf types of hydrangeas are ready for removal of their dead blooms. Some of the Annabelles, whose green heads still look good, can be left on until they start looking bad. Most of the Limelight’s blooms still look good, but they can be cut as soon as the flowering is finished.
  • My biggest problem now is weeds. The ones commonly called damn weed is a real pest this year. Even the tiniest plants can produce seeds. While I have sprayed them with Roundup, I have had little success, so I am trying to hand pull them and get the roots. I also spot sprayed Image on my zoysia to try to control the few weeds that are popping up in my lawn.
  • I sent my vegetable garden soil off for a soil test because production has been down this year. It told me a lot. I have to adjust the soil pH and will add some organic matter before I plant my fall garden which is quickly approaching.
  • Lots of my perennials have finished blooming but could produce another flush of growth and have beautiful fall blooms. I have lightly cut them back and fertilized with 15-0-15. They should be beautiful again by late September.
  • And finally I have slowed cutting my turf to about every 7 to 8 days. Be careful to not scalp the grass which easily happens now. As the weather drys, like it usually does this time of the year, keep it watered. This is the time when many unwatered lawns stress, and that is not good for overwintering.

Cooler weather, no rain, and a bit lower humidity is a great reason to do some of these gardening chores.

John Floyd

John Floyd has been gardening--and learning about Birmingham area gardening--for more than 30 years. In addition to his day-to-day experience, John has degrees in horticulture from Auburn and Clemson Universities and was Editor-in-Chief of Southern Living.

2 thoughts on “Tending the Garden Now

  1. Hey John, enjoyed your talk at the hydrangea meeting. Wondered about the crepies Mr Aldridge removed from your yard. I have one about 10 yrs old I would like to move. Also what fertilizer to use now for the azaleas & will leaf compost be as good as horse? Thanks.

    • The Crepes were dug by professionals but if you get a good root ball they transplant easily. I think 15-0-15 is good for azaleas in our area. While leaf mold is good, horse manure generally has more nitrogen once it decomposes. Of course you should never use fresh manure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *