Thursday, August 27, 2009

Providing Seasonal Color For Useless Borders

By Thomas Fryd

By August many gaps have developed in the flower garden, especially in the borders. Some annuals that provided seasonal color have died out, and need replacement. Make plantings of the fall flowering annuals or some of the short day flowers. Try plantings of zinnias, marigolds, balsam, petunias, and nasturtiums for another splash of late color. Many garden centers may have a supply of geraniums for planting in August to give fall color. Also, some of the perennials will be available as container plants and can be used very effectively. Dahlias may be cut back to stimulate a new crop of late flowers.


This chore goes on all the time for the alert landscape gardener. Certainly the period of bloom can be prolonged for the crape myrtle and butterfly bush by judicious removal of the old bloom spikes. In the case of the crape myrtle, many towns throughout the South have made city-wide plantings of this shrub because of the late summer habit of blooming. I will never forget my first butterfly bush (Buddleia). It was also dubbed summer lilac because of the soft spikes of lilac-colored flowers, but it also was always covered with butterflies. If you have not tried this one, by all means do so as the new hybrid varieties are unsurpassed for late summer color. They range in color from white through lavender, rose and purple. All of the flowering plants can be pruned lightly through the growing season to encourage new growth for production of flowers. This remedial pruning, when properly done, can easily control the growth habits of the plants, also.

Roses Slowing Down

Roses usually slow down their production of flowers during August. This semi-dormant condition is encouraged in order to condition the plants for a display of September and October blooms. During the last half of August, a very light feeding of an all-purpose fertilizer will stimulate fall bloom and will not leave the plant in succulent growth too late. There should be no feeding later than September 10, because if there is, the plants cannot prepare themselves to withstand cold weather.

With cool nights and shorter days, the internal structure of the plants will undergo a change whereby the sugars become complex forms of starches and carbohydrates that actually are "anti-freeze" compounds. These compounds normally prevent serious winter damage to plants such as ficus loosing leaves. Acclimated ficus benjamina show that late feedings disturb this phenomenon. Plants can not make the adjustment to withstand the extreme cold which sometimes occurs throughout our section.


The gorgeous display of lilies during August reminds all plant lovers to plan to plant some of these old favorites another year. The thrill of seeing the old favorites of lilies always stimulates the desire for more of these garden lilies. Just look what the hybridizers have done with the lilies! They are true garden aristocrats and most are easy to grow, vigorous and dependable. Madonna lilies should be dug, divided and replanted now for bloom next June. Keep these bulbs protected from exposure to direct sun, as rotting can be caused by baking in the sun.

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