August is still very hot and humid. Rain is pretty predictable on a daily basis. This means the mosquitoes are still a big bother, so be sure to take daily walks and dump standing water. With the rains, the weeds are growing just as quickly as the plants. To keep up on the weeds, I pull as I do my daily plant checks. It’s too hot to stay out weeding for long. If you don’t have the luxury of a daily walk and can only get to your garden weekly, be sure to take breaks and drink lots of water. Sun safety is a must during the summer months. You can quickly become overheated. Wear sunscreen and a hat.
This month, I’ve been reassessing plant placement. I had to move my Australian tree fern (Sphaeropteris cooperi) because, I believe, it didn’t do well near the salt water. This is my second go on an Australian tree fern; the first placement was behind an outdoor grill, which I think fried my fern tree. I also transplanted plants that needed a change in light. I find that not all light in Florida should be treated equally. Full sun during the summer months is a bit much for many plants. Filtered sun can sometimes be a better choice. Some of my plants were burning in the sun, while others were getting shaded out by my gigantic lantana. I had some potted plants that were also ready to be moved into the ground. Because potted plants require more water maintenance, I like to plant in the ground as much as possible. This may not be an option for everyone, so be sure to repot as your plants grow to avoid root bound plants. Transplanting plants can be jarring, but with the consistent rains during summer months, the plants do pretty well.
This month I have continued to experiment with propagating to save money and to gift plants to friends. I’m propagating from my devils backbone (Pedilanthus tithymaloides), citronella geranium (Pelargonium citrosum), and cranberry hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella). I’m also experimenting with sowing seeds from fruits or flowers. Pineapples have been my easiest and most successful; I’ve had a 100 percent success rate. You literally just cut the top off a pineapple from the grocery store, stick it in the dirt and let it root. (It will take a few years to produce fruit, but they make a dramatic statement in the landscape.) My marigolds and peppers seeds have been successful, but I’ve had random results from melon seeds. I sprinkled some sun flower seeds last week, let’s see what happens. These are fun experiments for the kids and cost nothing.
What’s growing in my vegetable garden:
My peppers are still doing well and watermelons have sprouted from the compost. August marks the month to start planting warm-weather vegetables. If you’re from the north, think late season vegetables. I’ve only tinkered with potted vegetables in Florida, so I’m excited to jump in at full force this year.
Things to plant:
At the end of the month I am going to sow squash and beans. Below are a few others to get started:
You can plant in pots, raised beds or the traditional in the ground method. Choose what works for your home and your time. Be sure to prep your soil with compost before sowing the seeds.
My milkweed (Asclepias) recovered very well from its transplant in July and is sporting beautiful green leaves and yellow flowers. I found another pomegranate (Punica granatum) trying to fruit – seventh times a charm? The oleander (Nerium oleander) is barely flowering, but growing very well. My Jamaican cherry (Muntingia calabura) is flowering small white flowers. The elephant ears (Colocasia esculenta) are blooming! This is new for me. Also a crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia) I transplanted last month is budding.
My butterfly garden is still in bloom. We get a variety of butterflies every morning. The kids love this. I highly recommend a butterfly garden if you like color. The blooms last all summer long!
August is a month to reassess, clean up perennials, plan your vegetable garden, and try not to sweat too much. Keep experimenting and happy gardening!
Where flowers bloom so does hope. ~ Lady Bird Johnson
Maccubbin, Tom. Month-By-Month Gardening Florida: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year. Minneapolis, MN: Cool Springs Press, 2014.