Simple Tasks to Rejuvenate Landscape and Containerized Plants
Getting plants to look good for long periods of time can be a challenge, especially in the heat of late summer. However, with little TLC plants can be rejuvenated and stimulated to look their best on into the autumn months.
Slow-release fertilizers are great for trees, shrubs, hanging baskets, houseplants and other containerized plants. These may be added in amounts we wouldn’t dream of using if it were a quick release formula. Slow-release fertilizers “meter out” nutrients to hungry plants. This saves us time and helps keep containerized plants growing vigorously. Several brands of slow-release fertilizers are available. Follow label directions for application rates.
Mixed baskets purchased this past spring may look ragged now. Rejuvenating the basket may be as simple as pruning and fertilizing. Removing old growth, weeds, spent flower buds and dead plants will begin the process of renewal. Once the container is cleaned up, add a fresh top dressing of mulch or compost. Soon the container will regain its former glory.
A two or three-inch layer of mulch will provide shelter for plant roots, restrict weed growth and help ensure an even moisture supply to annuals, perennials and woody shrubs. Remember weeds compete for light, nutrients, and water, so keep weeds suppressed with a layer of mulch.
Deadheading, the process of removing spent flowers from annuals and perennials, is a good practice that keeps plants from putting energy into seed production and keeps them blooming. It also keeps plants neat and tidy. However, if seed collection is desirable, let spent blooms stay on the plant until seeds are mature and dry. For many annuals and perennials, this may be about two weeks after petals dry up.
It’s not too late to plant more seeds of fast blooming annuals such as cosmos, cleome, marigolds sunflower and zinnia if you get started in early August. The same is true for additional plantings of bulbs like gladiolus and crocosmia for fall cut flower harvest.
Keeping turf healthy this time of year includes scouting for insects like chinch bug. Watch for increasing patches of yellowing turf in sunny areas. Chinch bug adults are small black and white insects that feed on turf and cause it to decline or die. Granular and liquid forms of turf insecticide are available to kill chinch bugs and other lawn pests.
Fertilizing centipede and St. Augustine lawns with nitrogen is questionable this time of year. However, bermudagrass turf will continue to need nitrogen into the fall. In August, applying 1.5 pounds of ammonium nitrate per 1,000 square feet is a reasonable approach to managing bermudagrass lawns.