Autumn in bloom

Published 8:58 pm Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dahlias are blooming this month, with flowers that are so big they sometimes can’t stay upright in windy and rainy weather.

August means prepping for fall in the garden

As August moves forward, hot weather is still sticking around, but it’s a good time to start preparing the garden for fall.

If any of the annuals or perennials in your garden are looking tired, cut them back while feeding them the appropriate food and giving them enough water as a way to give them new life going into the fall.

Now is also a good time to divide any bearded iris that wasn’t separated last month. In order to do that, dig up the clumps, cut back foliage, divide the plants and replant them at least six inches apart.

Taking care to prune your bushes before cold weather comes will allow them time to heal before being subjected to the elements.

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When replanted, the root masses should be planted shallowly, so the tops barely show out of the soil.

Any root masses that are soft, contain a lot of holes or don’t have any foliage on them should be thrown away.

Daylilies can also be divided this month if they didn’t bloom nicely this summer. They can be divided to ensure they have enough space to bloom; they need to be 12 to 18 inches apart.

If your vegetable garden is completely empty, August is a good time to add organic matter to the soil to ready it for fall crops.

If not, you should remove any vegetables that aren’t producing anymore. Discarding these ensures that the plants don’t continue to provide shelter and food for insects.

Also, collect any inedible fruit from trees and shrubs that can attract insects and host disease.

This should also be done with plants, such as peonies, that go dormant before most perennials.

Peony foliage will start to wither at the end of the month. Foliage at the ground level can be removed without causing damage to the plant.

This month is the best time to get pruning, which motivates new growth, on major shrubs, allowing them time to harden off before cold weather moves in with winter. However, spring blooming shrubs, such as azaleas and forsythia, shouldn’t be pruned at this time.

To encourage your roses before fall starts, increase the water they get in addition to removing any dead blooms and cutting back damaged or diseased foliage.

But August isn’t all about your plants going dormant for the winter. Dahlias are blooming this month, with flowers that are so big they sometimes can’t stay upright in windy and rainy weather. If done carefully, you can place a stake to hold them up if you haven’t done so already.

In addition to enjoying the late summer bloomers this month, it’s also a good time to plant fall blooming bulbs like spider lilies, colchicum and fall crocus that you’ll be able to enjoy soon enough.