Summer has officially arrived, bringing the heat right along with it, making working in your garden less comfortable than in previous months. During this time of year, it is best to work outdoors early in the morning or at dusk.
While many gardeners do the majority of their planting in the spring, mid-summer is a good time to do refresh your garden with color. Here are a few things you can do to keep your garden looking bright and fresh until fall.
Most annuals cannot withstand frequent rains and the oppressive summer heat. However, there are a few annuals you can plant in July and they will thrive. Marigold, impatiens, ornamental pepper and Crossandra are all good July choices. In August, opt for salvia, coleus and kalanchoe. August is also a good time to sow seeds in containers for future planting. Petunia, pansy, snapdragon and ornamental cabbage will all germinate in containers as long as they get plenty of light and you keep the soil moist. As soon as the seedlings have leaves, you can transplant them into small pots.
July isn't a typical month for vegetable planting because it is so hot, but okra can tolerate the heat well. According to the Central Florida Gardening Calendar, August is the official beginning of the fall planting season. This is the month to plant broccoli, sweet corn, collards, eggplant, squash, onions, pole beans, celery and watermelon.
Fruits can be planted year round in central Florida, so plant them in containers or in your garden and harvest them in the winter. Mid-summer is also a good time to prepare your garden soil for the upcoming growing season. Remove and discard any dead plants, as these give pests and diseases a place to breed. Check the soil pH at this time to determine if any amendments should be made to the soil.
Bulbs such as African iris, walking iris and Gladioulus can all be planted in July in our growing area. Elephant ear, Wastonia and shell ginger will bloom until the first frost for a pop of color in your landscape.
July is also a good time to prune shrubs such as azaleas, this allows new growth to mature before the first frost arrives later in the year. Since summer typically brings lots of rain, be sure to keep an eye out for fungal diseases such as powdery mildew on your crape myrtles and roses.
Mid-summer is also the time to prepare your lawn. Sow seeds or lay sod for Bermudagrass, bahiagrass and St. Augustinegrass. Diseases often rear their ugly head during the summer months, so be sure to watch for chinch bugs, mole crickets and caterpillars. Apply baits and insecticides as soon as possible to avoid serious damage to your lawn. You should also watch out for a few other summer pests such as thrips, Japanese beetles and spider mites in your landscape during the summer months.
Since summer rains are frequent this time of year, you should adjust your irrigation system to avoid overwatering. Most systems are equipped with rain sensors for this purpose, but if you don't have one be sure to change the settings on your system so you aren't watering every afternoon during the wet summer months. Watering too often will keep standing water in your yard, which is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Although it is hot, taking the time to do a bit of work in your landscape setting this July will keep your yard looking its best until fall. You will also be on the right track for fall plantings. Mid-summer is a great time to decide on future plantings and additions you want to make to your landscape setting.