Gardening Tips for August

  • Keep fall-blooming beauties, like asters, dahlias, and mums, compact by cutting them back a few inches now.
  • Apply a pre-emergent herbicide to help control cool-season weeds, like annual bluegrass, chickweed, and henbit.
  • Get fall-blooming hybrid tea roses in shape for autumn by lightly fertilizing them with a quality rose feed and pruning them back slightly (not less than 30 inches from the ground).
  • For a fall flurry of fresh produce, try new plantings early this month of cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, squash, and tomatoes.
  • If the rain doesn’t come, keep fall-fruiting ornamentals, like hollies, pyracanthas, and nandinas, watered regularly to prevent them from shedding their berries prematurely due to the lack of moisture.
  • Cool-season vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, collards, lettuce, and spinach, can be started from seed this month in flats in a shady location.
  • A compost mulch around your pride-and-joys now will help the root zone cool; prevent weeds; and, as the organic material breaks down, provide a mild shot of natural fertilizer.
  • Now is a good time to plant showy autumn bulbs, like colchicum, fall-flowering crocus, and sternbergia.
  • Harvest veggies, like green beans, okra, cucumbers, tomatoes, and squash regularly to encourage even more production from the plants.
  • August is when bugs are usually at their worst. Aphids, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, spider mites, squash bugs, squash vine borers, thrips, and white flies will all be out in force. For an all-purpose, environmentally safe bad-bug chaser, take five cloves of garlic, three hot peppers, one quart of water, and two drops of liquid soap. Liquefy the mix in a blender, strain it through a coffee filter, and spray it on plants. If it doesn’t work on all the bugs you want to control, you can always fall back on commercial pesticides.
  • Keep some suet, which attracts insect-eating birds, in the bird feeder for extra help against bugs.
For 20 years, L.A. Jackson contributed gardening stories and tips to Our State magazine. These tips come from the Tar Heel gardening archives.

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