Coastal and Tropical South

August, 2011
Regional Report

Plan to Plant

Do the soil work ahead of planting trees and shrubs in the coming months. Take advantage of the days following a rainy patch to dig up native soils and amend them with small amounts of organic matter. This practice will benefit all soils, whether heavy or sandy. Use a tarp to make the task easier. Lay it out next to the spot where you want a tree or shrub, and dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball you expect to plant. Put that soil on the tarp and add one-third or one-quarter its volume in ground bark. Mix it together well and return it to the hole. If wet weather is expected, cover the area with the tarp so it can be planted at your convenience. Even in an existing bed, this practice gets new additions off to a great start.

Divide and Replant

We have great latitude in the timing of many garden chores, including caring for perennials, but some are best divided in summer to give them time to get re-established for next year. Shasta daisies will overgrow their space and stop flowering if not divided every other year. Wait until the third year to divide Louisiana Iris, Easter lily, canna, liriope, ajuga, and gerber daisy.

Lime for Spinach

Spinach planted next month will produce abundantly in a big pot, wide bed, or in a row if you add a sprinkling of lime to the soil now. Use horticulture or garden lime, not hydrated lime, for this purpose. Use about 1 pound of lime to 50 square feet of garden row, or a space 5 feet wide and 10 feet long. Work it into the top couple of inches of the soil, water well, and wait three weeks before planting. Set out small transplants and sow seeds between them at the same time for a prolonged harvest.

Care for Flowers

The blue and purple salvias peak now, along with candelabra tree and fall asters. To keep them longer in the vase, cut long stems that can be recut regularly as you change the water. Strip the leaves off of any stem that touches water to prolong life. Even wet summers seem to have a dry week while the seed pods on these plants and many others are ripening. To prepare to save seed, let them remain as long as possible on the plant for the healthiest seeds. If rain threatens and the pods are not ripe, cut long stems and hang them upside down inside to dry.

Get Ready for Grasses

St. Augustine, Bermuda, and Buffalo grass are the best known warm season lawns, and the last part of August is a good time to plant seed or sod. Whether you are putting in a new lawn or have plans to repair an old one, soil preparation done now makes the difference later. Till and rake the area very well until it is smooth and level with an appropriate slight slope away from the house and structures. Clear out all the weeds and cover with a tight clear plastic sheet until you are ready to plant.

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