Posted: August 2, 2014 at 2:09 a.m.
It is hard to believe we are in Arkansas this summer with all the rain and mild temperatures. While we are all grateful and appreciative of the lower water bills, we have had some problems.
• In some yards, mosquitoes are pretty thick. Reports are that we have more daytime mosquitoes (more active in the day) than nighttime ones. Standing water can breed them both, so monitor areas that collect water.
• Extra moisture means we have damp and wet plants heading into the evening, a condition that can lead to diseases. Powdery mildew has been reported on many plants, from ornamentals to vegetables. Wilts, leaf spots and fruit decay have all been reported. Be vigilant.
• Plants that love hot, dry days have been a bit sluggish on their growth, but on the flip side we still have thriving nasturtiums, tuberose begonias and beautiful petunias and calibrachoa this year. All should play out with higher temperatures.
• No more pruning should be done to any azaleas or any other spring-blooming plants. For now, all that you do is monitor water needs, if it does turn dry. Extra rain may give you some extra new, unwanted growth on these plants, but pruning that off would reduce flowering next spring.
• Spring-blooming plants normally begin to set flower buds from mid- to late August and into September, but because conditions have been so encouraging, we already have flower buds for next season on tulip magnolias, camellias, dogwoods and other spring bloomers. If we don't get hit by freak weather, we should have a glorious display next spring.
• Encore or repeat-blooming azaleas are beginning to have some more blooms and should continue through fall.
• If vegetables are not producing or if you have harvested and have some blank space, now is
the time to begin planting a fall garden.
• You can reseed green beans, squash and cucumbers now (they're in the warm-season family), but also start sowing turnip, kale and collard seeds and get started with cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprout plants.
• You can also plant more tomatoes and peppers for a later harvest. The challenge may be finding transplants. They should gradually be hitting the nurseries and garden centers.
• The extra rainfall makes fertilization even more important. Water leaches nutrition out of the ground, and some of our rainfalls have been quite heavy. Flowering annuals and tropical plants will flower more freely if they get light, frequent doses of fertilizer. Don't be heavy handed and dump on too much or you can burn plants.
• Make sure your plants aren't overly dry on the days you plan to fertilize or apply pesticides. Both of these treatments can burn dry plants.
• This is one of the first summers where you can't tell who has been watering and who hasn't by the lack of a green lawn, since all lawns are still green. Mowing has been a more constant task than normal. One last application of fertilizer can be applied in late August to early September on Bermuda, St. Augustine and Zoysia lawns -- if they need it.
• Weeds are worse than ever. Don't allow them to flower and set seeds or the problem will be worse next year. Hoe, mow, hand-pull and mulch to keep the weeds in check.
If your garden lacks color, there are many great late-season plants that are blooming and will continue through frost. Options include:
• Perennial begonia, which is beginning to bloom in the shade with lovely dark pink flowers.
• Wild and woolly perennial sunflowers need room, but are blooming now and will last a good six to eight weeks.
• Salvias, echinacea, black-eyed Susan, turtle head, goldenrod and Japanese anemones kick in for late-season color.
• Joe-pye weed is already almost finishing up in some gardens, but the orange-flowering Turks cap (Malvaviscus) is beginning its show.
Many nurseries and garden centers still have many summer annuals that can bloom until frost, and tropical flowers are also in their prime. No garden should be without color -- now or ever.
Janet B. Carson is a horticulture specialist for the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service.
HomeStyle on 08/02/2014