It’s time to prepare summer gardens for fall. This summer has been an exercise in patience. At least cloudy skies make cooler temperatures. The current warm season will continue for another couple of months. This checklist will have your plantings in fine form for milder months ahead.
More common in large mixed beds, taller annuals and perennials may be leaning on neighboring plants that are smaller or growing slower. Support by staking to bamboo poles or rods with garden twine. A few tall annuals/perennials that exhibit this habit would be butterfly weed, cigar flower, shrimp plant, lantana and turk’s cap.
Perennials grown as annuals continue growing until late October but may not look their best, such as coleus, begonias, four-o-clocks, salvias and torenias. Even if they are blooming, trim them back no more than half their height. The plant will reward with fuller, more vibrant growth and blooms. True perennials benefit from regular deadheading and removing dead flower stalks. Prune hard if new growth is evident from the base. Shrubs and trees naturally reduce new growth during less hours of sunlight to prepare for winter. Complete pruning before the end of August.
A light sprinkling of an all-purpose fertilizer will entice new growth to annuals and tender perennials that have been pruned. If it hasn’t rained in two weeks, use a soluble fertilizer. Fertilization of any shrub or tree is not necessary.
Hanging baskets or container plants of true annuals will be tired and worn-out. Replace with another heat-loving plant or mix with colorful foliage plants such as coleus, purple leaf basil or bright green sweet potato vine.
When thinning or pruning, root a few cuttings or re-pot plants as a gift. Take time for Nature. Happy Growing!
For more helpful information about gardening in South Louisiana, visit lsuagcenter.com.