Wednesday, August 19, 2009

July Annuals Option

By Thomas Fryd

Hot July weather always brings on that languid feeling in the South making us seek ways of doing chores without physical exertion. In fact, some of these dreams of gardening by remote control are a reality.

Walking sprinklers, rocking and rotary types, all make summer watering easy but the newest labor-saving stunt is a self-propelled rotary mower. The Lawnbott Spyder as one is called, travels around the open lawn and mows and chugs along by itself trying to dodge trees and shrubs by itself while cutting the grass.

Annual Flower Seeds can still be sown this month, especially fast-growing balsam, celosia, marigold, ageratum, petunia and zinnia for the Middle and Upper South. In the Lower South plant balsam, celosia, coleus, cosmos, gaillardia, geranium, marigold, moonflower, morning glory, periwinkle, portulaca, salvia, sunflower, tithonia and zinnia.

In Texas, naturalize bluebonnets directly into gravelly, alkaline soil in the garden or lawn areas. Sow as late as November, but July sowing gives longer blooming.

Perennial Flower Seeds can be planted in July and August. Early sowing makes strong, well-established plants for fall transplanting. Start seeds in a coldframe kept partially shaded and cool. For the Middle and Upper South plant pansy, foxglove, hollyhock, Canterbury bell, Shasta daisy, Oriental poppy, gaillardia, candytuft. In Lower South pre-chill delphinium, pansy, Shasta daisy and snapdragon seed in refrigerator for sowing late August and September.

Water Mums regularly during dry periods, and feed monthly with a complete plant food to keep them active. Failure to give good care now results in dead, dried foliage on the lower stems and poor blooms. Don't forget the National Chrysanthemum Show in Bessemer, Alabama, in November!

Poinsettias grow too tall and leggy. Keep them pinched back until mid-August to produce lower, bushier plants.

Bulb Planting and Digging goes on through July, although most of the work is preparing them for storage and controlling insects and diseases. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, Dutch iris are showing yellowed leaves. Vesper iris also starting to bloom during this time. Caring for iris such as the vesper iris and other plants like tulips, daffodils and hyacinths is a priority this month. Leave them in the ground to grow into larger clumps or lift, separate and store in a cool, dry place until planting in September and October.

Dahlias are growing rapidly now and developing heavy stems. Tie weekly. Terminal bud clusters should be disbudded on large-flowering varieties. Leave only central bud to develop. Watch for stem borers. Wilting of stems and leaves is a sure indication. Find the hole where the borer entered and impale it with a wire run up the stem through the hole. Malathion and Orthene are good borer controls.

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