August Garden Chores

Sweet Autumn Clematis is one of my favorite flowers, which begins to bloom at the end of this month.
August is a fast month in the garden with hot days and the slow advancement toward less daylight. To get the most out of your garden this month, here are some guidelines that I will be following.

Seed Starting
Now is the time to divide rhizome irises.
Sow carrot, beet, lettuce, radish, spinach and pea seeds now for a fall crop. I'm going to plant some in my cold frame, too, so I can extend the crops when the days get colder.

Pruning
Prune hydrangeas now for flowers next summer. There is a short three-week window to do this in August; after that, the plants will put their energy into creating flower buds for next year. Read more here.

Cover Crops
As vegetable areas are harvested, start sowing cover crops to help condition the soil this fall and over the winter. I like to use High Mowing Seed's hairy vetch and winter rye mix.

Divide Irises
This can be started in July and continued throughout this month in the Northeast. Irises should be divided every three to five years, or when clumps start to lack flowers. There's a helpful article on dividing and transplanting rhizome iris here.

Watering
The garden usually needs help this month with water, so keep an eye on plants. The best time to water is in the morning.

Poor perennial hibiscus with sawfly damage.
Pests
Keep shaking Japanese beetles into cups of soapy water to get rid of them. The best time to do this is in the morning or early evening hours, when they are not as active. Have you applied neem oil to your perennial hibiscus? I forgot to this year and the hibiscus sawfly is having a field day eating the leaves. The plants are flowering now.

Bulbs
Now is the time to figure out where you want to plant and what you want to order for spring blooming bulbs. Typically, the earlier your order, the better the availability.

Remember to get outside and enjoy the flowers! Summer is fleeting - onward!

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