Tag Archives: August

I’m Only Humid

A gardener’s zest for yard work can wilt in August. We’re only “humid” and I understand. Yet in August some of the best entertaining days in the garden are for us to enjoy. From Rudbeckia to Sedums to Buddleia the landscape continues to entertain. With a little TLC and the willingness to wet our “plants” the landscape can reward our senses like an ornamental grass and its wispy dance in the warm summer breezes.

Echinacea provides long lasting summer color

Echinacea provides long lasting summer color

I love the month of August and it’s the gateway to some of the best gardening months of the year. This is no time to throw in the “trowel” on the yard and garden. Besides, now is the time we are rewarded with the fruits of our labors harvesting the tomatoes and peppers we lovingly planted months ago.
August is a great time to rejuvenate our flowering landscape annuals and give them a kick in the plants! Chopping back stretched, tired or leggy annuals and then feeding with a water soluble fertilizer will give them new life.

Begonias put on a show in the shade of the summer heat

Begonias put on a show in the shade of the summer heat

They’ll kick back into gear and produce a new flush of growth and color well into October. Mums and Asters become available starting in August to supplement your rejuvenated annuals for continuous color. In addition ornamental grasses take center stage in August and September as drought and heat tolerant extroverts in your yard. This is also the month for panicle Hydrangeas like PG, ‘Limelight’ or ‘Little Lamb’ to take center stage in the landscape with their stunning cone shaped blooms. Easy to grow and reliable they put on a show in August and September.

Annabelle Hydrangeas nod in the summer breeze

Annabelle Hydrangeas nod in the summer breeze

August is also a month to think about having that lawn you’ve always wanted. The best time to seed or over seed or establish a new lawn is mid August to October 1. The soil is nice and warm and if you kill unwanted vegetation grass seed will establish nicely as we head into fall. I still believe August 15 to October 1 is the best time of year in Michigan to establish a little “lawn” and order. Remember also that newly hatched grubs do most of their damage to a lawn in August and September, especially if the lawn is thirsty. If you did not apply a grub control in July you still have time this month while the young grubs are feeding near the surface. If you apply now you shouldn’t have to apply next spring.

Establish some "lawn" and order in August

Establish some “lawn” and order in August

Keep vegetable plants like tomatoes well watered so they keep producing and be watching for those miserable tomato hornworms on the plants. Head outside in the evening hours with a bucket of soapy water and pick them off the plants to drown their sorrows in your bucket of soapy water. Plenty of water at the base of your tomatoes and the calcium supplements you added earlier in the season will avoid the unsightly blemishes and “zippering” of the fruit you long to pick.
Unfortunately this also the month to be vigilant in inspecting under decks, patio furniture, mailboxes and other hiding areas for European Paper Wasps. These unwelcome guests pack a wallop of a sting when disturbed and have become much too common in our late summer landscapes. Look for the “paper”-like nests attached to railings or under patio furniture and spray from a distance with a knock down stream of wasp control spray.

The color of blue in these Hostas under the deck add to the cooling effect of shade

The color of blue in these Hostas under the deck add to the cooling effect of shade

Don’t let your enthusiasm wilt in the heat of August. We’re only “humid” and the garden party has just begun. See you in September.
Rick Vuyst


Don’t be a “spore” loser

It’s August and that means humidity. The combination of high humidity, occasional rain, plant crowding and poor air circulation develops a fungus among us….powdery mildew. These conditions cause spores to spread and develop a whitish grey powdery cast on foliage. It can happen to many different plants although some are more susceptible than others.

Zinnias with Powdery Mildew just dusted with Sulfur fungicide

Lilacs, Monarda, Zinnias, Phlox, Dogwoods, Cucumbers and even lawns can fall prey to this fungal condition in August. Don’t be a “spore” loser. Powdery mildew is rarely fatal but does stress and weaken plants, inhibits photosynthesis and is unsightly or should I say leaves your plants looking in “spore” taste. Fight back by possibly thinning or staking some plants to improve air movement. If you’re irrigating over the top, water in the morning so the foliage can quickly dry as the sun comes up. It’s best to water at the base of plants when possible. Once you’ve changed the conditions the plants are growing in you may wish to use a fungicide when necessary. I like to use a Copper fungicide or Sulfur fungicide. They can be mixed with water and applied with a sprayer or applied as a dust. Just see what my well grounded advice “mildew” for you! Powdery mildew is something the weather tends to do to us in August but you don’t have to “sulfur” alone.

Drama Queen

There are some real drama queens in the landscape in August. Swaying in the warm summer breezes, dancing in the August moonlight or soaking up the rays on a hot summer afternoon, I love how some plants take center stage in August.

How’s this for a histrionic heavenly plant………..Hydrangeas put on a show in August……….

Hydrangeas...a kick in the plants in August!


And of all the genera in the daisy family the ubiquitous but welcome Rudbeckia flourishes in August. With many varieties to choose from aside from the common Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ this perennial thrives in the heat of August. Rudbeckia takes the stage in August and puts on a long visual show (by herbaceous perennial standards) requiring minimal upkeep. The primary problem I have found people have with these beauties that many refer to as “Black Eyed Susans” or “Coneflowers”  is overwatering via sprinkler systems causing disease and black spots on the foliage. Placed in a sunny spot in the landscape the plant will give you a sunny smile on an August day including the tall and impressive Rudbeckia laciniata or “cutleaf coneflowers” pictured to the left growing 4 to 7 feet tall!