Good Gardening in 2019 

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AUGUST - mid-summer night and days dream-some plants from earlier in the growing season have become memories either as photos or thoughts, while those of right now strive to keep up the pace. Rain kept coming and made for a very unique spring and early summer, extreme temperatures of then now will be forgotten as days begin to shorten and nighttime temperature modify.  

Possible Sights, Actions-Good and Bad

Spring Flowering Bulbs-time to finalize list of new purchases and submit orders-Give Help-to Not for Profit Organizations-Check Brightside St. Louis-purchase spring flowering bulbs, their annual bulb sale is happening, go to for variety list and how to order

Mums-if newly purchased (though perennial) roots may not have time to acclimate for winter survival

Roses-continue application of fungicides for black spot and other diseases, don't apply any fertilizer containing nitrogen after mid-month

Powdery Mildew-on foliage of perennials, annuals, lilacs, shrubs isn't harmful, is aesthetic

Iris (flags) Clumps-dig up get rid of any that didn't bloom this spring, healthy bloomers can be divided / transplanted now

Hedges-prune bottom wider than top to prevent lower needles and leaves from being overshadowed causing defoliation

Spring Flowering Woodies (serviceberry, holly, dogwood, viburnum, etc.)-fruit coloration is starting

Equipment (saws, pruners, mowers)-keep blades sharp and disinfect after using on diseased plant  Install or Transplant-trees and shrubs to allow adequate time for root establishment before ground freezes, mulch (2-4" after planting), keep watered to prevent dehydration during transition period

Hummingbirds-migration southward has begun, keep an eye out and enjoy their passing by    

Cane Fruits Ripening-black and red raspberries once harvested cut down canes that bore fruit this year, allow all others to persist

Overloaded Fruit Trees-not ready for harvest yet, prevent damage / cracking of limbs by physically supporting

Keep Eye on Conifers-various caterpillars could be present and damaging needles if discovered spray with insecticide

Buzzing About-numerous wasps, bees, ground hornets...-some more aggressive and simple swishing away may trigger and attack (sting and bite)-workers are out getting food to supply queen with nourishment to insure her survival through winter

Returning, Unexpected or Out of Ordinary Mysteries-galls-lumps on mainly red oak tree branch / twig (cause newly hatched small wasps burrowing into twig ignites bloated growth)-treatment ineffective, fire blight-brown branch tips on apple family members both ornamental (including pears) or fruiting, rose rosette-maroon canes large number of thorns and or distorted flowering-remove plants immediately disease transmitted by variety of spider mites, fungus / mushroom-growth occurs on dead plant parts (roots, trunks, branches, twigs) or surface of mulch -no treatment, if found in lawn could indicate dethatching is needed (for cool season lawn only this time of year)-REMEMBER depending degree of problems some infected plants are best removed vs. treated

Culinary Herbs-harvest in morning for best aroma and flavor, don't fertilize or water

Herbaceous (annuals, biennials, perennials) Plants-that have lost pizazz can be cut back and fertilized you may be rewarded with new foliage growth, final feeding of later blooming perennials-phlox, mums, asters and those extended bloomers i.e. tickseed, black-eyed Susan, anemone...option to divide, transplant spring show-offs i.e. columbine, dianthus, bugloss, wild ginger...that are now heading for dormancy

Find Out-What is going on in your soil(s)-take separate soil sample for major landscape areas i.e. edible garden, lawn, shade garden, street side bed space...for testing-go on line for drop-off or ship to locations-check U of MO. Extension Service office in Kirkwood

Visiting Nurseries-their focus will be turning towards fall i.e. new shipments of woodie and herbaceous plant material ready for installation, spring flowering bulbs (purchase store in dark cool location-best planting dates mid-October continuing until early-December, fall fertilizer for cool season lawns, fall blooming pansies to perk up pots or bed spaces are just a few reasons to stop by also Give Close Inspection To-end of summer season plant material sale there can be some great finds, be patient give a close scrutiny to avoid disappointment and or introducing troubles to your landscape 

Historically Troubled by Annual Cool Season Weeds-make application of pre-emergent herbicide (in gardens and or lawn) from mid to late month, cool season annual weed (i.e. annual bluegrass, chickweed, henbit...) dropped seeds from last spring and have been waiting for cooler temperatures to germinate-Be Smart-considering re-seeding lawn areas - Do Not apply pre-emergent in those locations - pre-emergent will kill any / all germinating seed including lawn grass seed

Last Feeding for Houseplants / Tropicals (whether growing in or outdoors) this Year (exception fertilize any plant when flowering begins later in year)-additionally water to keep growing medium damp not wet, routinely inspect all (both indoors and outside) plants for presence of bugs or diseases anything discovered take proper action to minimize impact, isolate or get rid of infected plants  

Watering Correctly Makes a Difference-is part of getting plant / roots ready for winter-1" every 7 days-all plants strawberry patches, lawns, perennials, ground covers, vines, roses, shrubs, trees, etc. best watering technique is run water for longer time periods, less to drive moisture deeper benefitting any and all plants-hesitate to irrigate after sundown-may trigger disease/ virus / bacteria problems   

Still Possible to get Several Months of Aesthetic Rewards-routine care / maintenance on actively growing plants (potted or in ground), from annuals (morning glory vine, impatiens...), summer bulbs / tubers (elephant ears, caladiums...), to perennials (Japanese painted fern, coreopsis...) and more   

Troubling Insect Control-Spider Webbing-seen on numerous woody plant types (mugho pine, boxwood...) and other non-plant structures (railings, downspouts...) could be beneficial spiders that catch many troublesome bugs (fungus gnats, flighted aphids...)

Pruning-shape up, reduce size, cutting off more than 25% could increase chance of fall / winter weather related foliage or stem / twig damage another thought cutting back spring flowering tree or shrub won't hurt plant but will reduce flower quantity next spring

Be Smart if Considering Landscape Changes-lawn related, is area prone to wetness, have towering tree / surface root system, deep shaded by building , multiple attempts unsuccessful in establishing lawn-these among other factors would suggest considering other options i.e. ground covers-landscape planting many of lawn related factors apply, in addition size of area in relationship to mature size of plantings being considered-if satisfied next measure space to determine amount of soil amendments (compost and or blends) needed, remove existing plantings (kill, discard or hold in protected location in ground or pots, keep watered), next apply weed control (re-apply as needed through development process)-purchase 1.5 cu. yds. compost or compost blend mix per each 100 sq. renovated / converted area work into existing soil (this will raise area allowing for settling), later in month through September seed, sod, or install new plant material, make sure to set aside enough time to water properly through establishment period of 3-4 weeks

New or Established Landscape Scenarios-each year's weather could create new or re-create headaches and or heartaches ranging from historically successful planting underperforming, explosive weeds, unexpected insects, outbreak of disease, physical i.e. shade provider(s) removed now remaining herbaceous plants are sunburnt, wildlife visitations more frequently, bad plant selection-related to size , siting or installation, lack of proper care / maintenance-don't jump to conclusions before taking any action be sure of what you are going after-reminder there are very few circumstances (even if correct solution is used) where instant results occur can take multiple attacks to eradicate completely of this is especially true in our outdoors where timing of treatment is crucial (pre-emergent application to kill germinating cool season annual weed seeds-Getting Help now can, will make a big difference

Lawn Transition (cool season awakens-warm season slows)-bluegrass or fescue-care and maintenance options include; fertilizing, dethatching, core aerating / top dressing ½" compost, overseeding, weed control (pre and post emergent), insect / grub control, virus, bacteria, fungus diagnosis / treatment, installation of sod (with commitment to watering for establishment) keep mower blade height at 3.5-4", zoysia get final feeding of year before months end-Be Real tree roots have a huge impact on lawns physical and aesthetic success-No Matter What is Done

Rodents Get Anxious-natural ability to sense seasonal change is coming-meaning time to fatten up moles-surface tunneling seeking earthworms main diet (eat little plant material-but tunneling undermines root systems causing dehydration, consume all insects discovered during tunneling process i.e. pill bugs, grubs, centipede, millipede...mole control-flatten tunnels active areas pop up within day-control place traps along active tunnel-check daily to see if triggered-none tunneling rodents (i.e. voles, mice...) use abandoned tunnels for access food source plant root, bulbs...

Bug Activity-Below Soil Surface and All Over-typically can find one or more types of Grubs-regionally 5 different types-annual, May, green June, and Japanese-each can damage root system, foliage and flowers at various life phases-Killing Grubs minimizes potential current and future damage-APPLY Grub Control to kill but remember this will not eliminate / diminish mole activity-Other Insects to Watch Out For-fall webworm, bagworms, pine moth, spider mites, scale, borers... 

JULY-First full month of summer, opportunity to begin tasting / using home grown herbs, watching cannas shoot upwards like 4th of July bottle rocket, sweet alyssum blanket an area, harvest Roma tomatoes and make marinara sauce, hosta blooming in shade while purple coneflowers float in the sunny areas, lightning bug adding sparkle as sun goes down and much more. Though this is generally a stressful month for all plants, some are sent into summertime doldrums that could mean foliage, flower or fruit drooping, wilting and or dropping, high humidity levels (increase fungus problems), intense heat- sunlight (leaf / stem / branch / trunk sun burn scorch), drier soils can be so tight that rain or irrigated water run over top just like it does over hardscapes.  Insect / disease problem appear almost overnight-could be due to your WANING ENERGY ‘simply hot and muggy' even early morning or late evening for a walk around inspection. Keep hydrated and stay with a routine to minimize / eliminate any disruptive situations always realizing some things may implode no matter what, but many ‘bad' circumstances could be reversed allowing for months more enjoyment. Just keep a positive attitude because you never know what tomorrow may bring


Minimize Chemical (liquid or granular) Damage during Usage-refresh memory by READING LABEL-related to air temperature, follow label guidelines before choosing to make application of any chemical-fungicide, herbicide, insecticide, fertilizer, or multi-combination-or more severe damage may result during heat and humidity could cause more harm than good or even kill plants

Weed Control-essential because weeds are generally more aggressive (nutrient absorption, invasiveness are examples) than cultivated landscape plants application of any chemical (broad spectrum or specific target) herbicides in our regions hot weather scenario may kill or adversely impact untargeted plant-after reading and understanding label still apply with caution; if spraying prevent drift / damage-create physical barrier between targeted weed and ‘good plant(s), option to apply directly on ‘weed' with brush or sponge applicator-understanding 3 major types--broadleaf-wide multi-branched veins annual or perennial-spread with underground off shots and seed dispersal-examples: dandelions, violets, chickweed, spurge--grass-pointed blade parallel vein, annual or perennial, spread modified roots (tillers) or seed-examples: foxtail, crabgrass, wild onions / garlic, goose grass--sedge-(adaptable grows in many soil types especially wetter areas) narrow chartreuses grass like blade which have triangular configuration where entering into ground, this perennial spreads with seed and root system: common name nutgrass / nutsedge-depending upon problem area / size, multiple applications over extended period of years may be required-Remember best control use product formulated for specific weed type / group

Perplexing Diseases (virus, fungus, bacteria) determining specific ailment is difficult but necessary to determine what control should be applied-realizing any and every plant can be impacted, some plants are susceptible to many problems at various times of the year with damage ranging from aesthetic to deadly, appearance from small spots to large browned areas to big lumps, hot, humid weather plays huge role from introduction of diseases to previously healthy plants to speeding decline of weaker plants, never stop looking and making proper diagnosis followed with appropriate action if needed to control damage-reminder application of chemical controls after obvious physical signs are present will not eradicate problem at best suppress further spread-Take notes of problems and next year make chemical applications prior to obvious troublesome signs-this pro-active approach is by far best

Yes there are Good and Bad Bugs-‘baddies' damage can be more pronounced during ‘hot / drier spells' triggering action to minimize damage, be conscious there are many ‘good guy' beneficial insects /bugs (praying mantis, honey bees, spiders, lightning bugs, aphid lions...) living among potential troublemakers-meaning application of any ‘insect' control should be done with extreme environmental care so whether trying to eradicate / control populations from fungus gnats, tiny no-see-ums to colorful Japanese beetles burly or cicadas-have a well thought out course of action before beginning realizing damage and range from extreme to none other than requiring brushing away-determining trouble maker-check foliage top and underside (early morning, late evening and yes even in heat of the day), look up and down stems, twigs, branches-all plant parts for anything previously unseen-remember that insect chewing / sucking / or contaminated presence can transmit virus / diseases anywhere from below ground to tree tops, insects can be bright / shiny or camouflaged / subtle; examples of damage- webbing on branch endings means fall (caterpillars) webworms are building nests, disrupt or prune off webs, spray directly into webs to kill if excessive amount of leaf drop occurs-brown lawn patches (chinch bug, sod web worm, grubs), woodie foliage / flowers skeletonized / holey / with squiggles on leaves (leaf miners, Japanese beetle-Special Note-control by hand picking early morning while temperatures are below 70 is best as beetles are immobile), leaves lacking / losing color (mites, thrips), foliage edges chewed (grasshoppers, tomato horn worm), sticky surface on stems or leaf (aphids, mealy bugs), sawdust material base of trees (borers, carpenter bees), gall lumps on leaf or branches (small non-stinging wasps), small 1" brown bags dangling on evergreens (bagworms), fallen green branch tips (twig girdling beetle), fallen small twigs with slits on underside (cicada), immobile white or brown lumps on foliage or along branching (scale) in shade garden foliage with holes / slimy trails (slugs snails)

Facts related to Predatory ‘Good Guy' Insects-most effective in sunny locations, sun plants are more attractive to pests (potential food)-which predatory insects need to survive, integrated pest management (application of chemical directly onto insect pest(s) not general spraying of entire plant-not generally effective- disease presence do not be alarmed as mildew, mold, or fungus growth may occur on mulch surface the impact on healthy plants is minimal, gently stir area and realize it may return or pop up elsewhere


Visual Explosiveness-annuals (portulaca, coleus, marigolds, petunias, begonias...), tropicals / houseplants (spider plant, wandering Jew, mother-in-law tongue, rubber tree...), bulbs (elephant ears cannas, caladiums, gladiolas...), vines (morning glory, hyacinth bean, cardinal climber, moon flower...) fertilize every other week and keep watered-enjoying textures, forms and color (in beds, window boxes, containers / pots), containerized plants-feed every other week, exception herbs and succulents, some annuals require deadheading spent flowers to generate next bloom sequence (i.e. marigolds)

Maximize Herbal Return-sage, rosemary, thyme, basil... aroma and taste increases with higher temperature, minimize watering, no fertilizer for ‘in grounders' very little if potted for best results

Tomato Lovers-2 major types (determinant fruit once then die i.e. Roma, indeterminate fruiting all season i.e. Grape, Better Boy) keep well water (2 signs of bad water practice-flower drop and blossom end rot), get correct nutrients by using tomato food routinely

Minimizing Lawn Sunburn-set mower blade height (4-4.5") for blue grass, fescues and (3-3.5") zoysia (longer grass blade length shades plant crown to reduce sunburn potential)-mow frequency to keep clippings 1" or less, feed only zoysia (ratio 2-1-1 i.e. 20-10-10) if using granular must be watered in immediately to avoid chemical burn

Rewarding Perennials-(mums, asters, toadflax, balloon flower, hosta, astilbe...), ferns (Japanese painted, ostrich, Christmas...) bulbs (lilies, hardy cyclamen, autumn crocus / saffron...)-fertilize flowering / budded / later season bloomers and all those actively growing, cut down and remove all with yellowing / brown foliage to minimize future problems, flower dead heading is for aesthetics

Dividing Bearded Iris-perfect time exception is any that didn't flower in spring, remove and discard, probably will not flower in future whether divided or not

Fall Blooming Mums-last pinch by mid-month helps insure fall spectacular  

Rewarding Roses-(all types) remove discolored or spotted leaves and morning watering reduces foliar disease potential, prune off 20% spent bloom stems to encourage next flush, fertilize (rose food), continue fungicidal sprays as needed, mix extra to use on other plants prone to fungal problems

Relaxing Site and Sound of Water Feature / Fountain / Pool-evaporation is accelerated by high air temperatures (day or night), refill frequently to reduce chance of algae bloom, watch for mosquito larva in water

Woody (trees, shrubs) Plants-newly installed water as necessary to insure 1" of water (rainfall or irrigated) every 7 days-apply no fertilizers to existing or newly installed trees and shrubs, or new growth, could trigger late season growth / winter damage-prune healthy shade trees if needed can be done now

Houseplants-prune as needed, fertilize and keep soil moist-except cactus / succulents allow some dry periods, any plants actively growing / top heavy, if repotting only 1-2" larger pot to reduce shock 


In Need of Replacement Plant-Garden Centers-likely have a good selection of healthy plants-summer blooming woodies-golden raintree, crape myrtle, perennials-lamb's ear, Japanese painted fern, annuals-dragon wing begonia, cleome, roses-shrub or climbers, summer bulbs-gladiolas, caladiums, ground covers-pachy-sedum, spreading liriope (examples) keep in mind proper installation is crucial and on-going care / maintenance for several weeks during establishment period 

High Humidity doesn't quench wildlife's Thirst-(chipmunks, moles, rabbits, deer, squirrel, skunks, voles...) can become very brave during hot / dry periods while seeking ‘consuming landscape plantings' their damage can kill, destroy, ruin aesthetically and or physically plant material in numerous ways by chewing / eating foliage / fruit-vegetables, scarring stems / twigs / bark, causing plant drought acceleration / soil dehydration with tunnels / ruts, even when seeking ‘insects' wildlife can damage lawn and other plantings...determine cause of damage then take action, traps, repellents and or physical barriers

Heat of the Day Droopy Foliage-(plant protective mechanism-closing pores to reduce dehydration) does not automatically call for water-wait near sundown or next morning if wilting is still prevalent water, plants need 1" per week


June means many things Schools Out, doorway to summer and the Greatest Landscape Show Possible so many things to keep ahead of, on top of with Mother Nature setting the stage with some of longest daylight hours of the year. We know there will be potentially stressful temperatures and humidity so stay smart make wise care / maintenance decisions related to your Plant World. Enabling you to relish greatness and except fact there will probably be disappointment, but ENJOYMENT rules.


Product Labels (read / re-read and understand) before any application-whether fertilizer, or any chemical to your landscape-do not mix at higher concentration rate than stated - can burn plant roots and or damage soils (living micro-organisms) causing plants to decline / struggle or die

When Adding New Mulch-raises soil temperature, watering first to reduce damage potential, make light application of granular fertilizer, then add if needed (or rake lightly to refresh)--total depth (existing + new) herbaceous (between not over plants)-1-2", woodies 3-4" (keep away from bark)

Fertilizers-use type formulated for specific plant i.e. tomato fertilizer, rose fertilizer, bloom booster for annuals, application tip-mulched area best results using powder water mixture-water carries nutrients through mulch and into the soil for plant use, granular types can be held in suspension by mulch, granular or liquid in lawns, pots, un-mulched garden spaces-DON'T feed trees now

Making a Difference Equipment Maintenance-keep all blades sharp, if removing diseased plant material before using on healthy plants dip tool / wipe mower blade with bleach / water mix to de-contaminate, make sure spreaders and sprayers are working properly before each application

Birds-new born (cardinals, finches, robins, doves...) along with parents providing visual fun

Over-all Pests / Insects and Diseases

Examine-plants prone to or with a history of insect and disease problems-proper diagnosis with appropriate fast action can make a huge difference on damage control

Common Headaches-Mealy Bugs, Aphids, Thrips, Mites, Red Clover Mites, Slugs, Japanese Beetle, Bagworms, White Fly, Scale, Grasshoppers, Cucumber Beetle, Leaf Miner-some examples of potential insect problems in your landscape (some very damaging)-check plants in early morning, underside of foliage, along stems-making positive ‘bug' identification before application of insecticide / miticides to save time / money and insuring best results

Underground White Grubs (larval stage / baby beetles that feed on plant roots)-five varieties found in region; May, annual, green June, and Japanese, characteristics whitish curled body, brown head, three pairs of legs, some specifics annual grub found only in bluegrass lawn causing damage from summer into fall, 4 other types can be found anywhere in landscape from lawns to garden / bed space, June grubs push / stirs small amounts of dirt to surface while feeding

High in Tree Cicadas (locusts / re re's)-emergence / presence obvious by ‘screaming sound' and exoskeletons found attached to tree trunks, limbs, branches, major damage done as females slit underside of twigs to deposit eggs, causing twigs to die and drop-no effective control

Yuck What is That-Disease, Virus, Bacteria-damage ranges from aesthetics to plant death earliest correct detection / diagnosis with fast action will get best results but reminder applications after visible signs are obvious will slow / minimize damage, generally won't eradicate, whether in lawn, roses, trees, shrubs, etc.-keep track of first ‘seeing' then in future make fungicide application prior to physical presence could prevent trouble entirely Not Always Disease, Virus, Bacteria Related-Discolored / Undersized Foliage, Lack of Flowering or Fruit Set-can be nutrient / moisture deficiency or abundance


Action for Specific Plant Groups

All Newly Installed Plants-from woody, lawn to herbaceous watch closely, take action as needed to insure good root growth / nutrient moisture absorption to combat summer heat 

Prune These Trees Now-best time for maples (sugar Japanese, red, amur, etc.) birches (river, whitespire, etc.), beech tree (purple, tricolor, etc.), there is less sap flow, cut longer branches in sections 1/3rd length each cut, final cut stub should be ¼ to ½" to trigger proper healing, apply no sealer it is ineffective

Tropical / Houseplants-monitor for sunburn routinely if foliage is burning (sunburn) relocate to shadier location, if plants wilting in morning potting mix is dry, wilting in heat of day moisture retention, can be pruned to shape or reduce size-depending upon variety cuttings can be rooted, fertilize plants if outdoors full label rate, indoors ½ label rate, take cuttings to give as gifts

Annuals-versatility really begins to show from brightest hottest location to deepest shade there will be several options, growing window boxes, small to large pots, hanging baskets, in ground almost anywhere to provide maximum color from white to deep purple, if purchasing new type read tags to make best choice, plants require attention to perform best watering and fertilize according to variety

Lawns-(cool and warm season varieties)-should be emerald green, cool season types will decline later in month and all shaded areas will thin as well, set blade height to cut bluegrass at 3" (helps shade roots), fescues 3" and zoysia 3", water twice weekly to insure 1" water every 7 days, do not water daily for short periods, fertilize zoysia but not bluegrass or fescue, watch for weed explosions

Perennials-removal of spent flowers not essential, some earlier blooming seed heads may provide seeds for birds, fertilize, control weeds-dig and or apply herbicide, water according to plant type

Roses-traditional classic (floribunda, grandiflora, miniature, hybrid teas, climbers...) types remove spent flowers from first flush, cut off at first or second 5 leaflet (depending upon stem strength), unnecessary to prune shrub or bush but do so to control shape / size, fertilize, water as needed continue insect / disease control, watch for Japanese beetles (metallic blue green)-remove / kill immediately to minimize damage

Shrubs-prune finished spring bloomers, pruning on summer bloomers will reduce flower count, don't cut back broadleaf or needled evergreens because remaining tips may sunburn, fertilize use formula for specific type of shrub i.e. evergreens need acid loving (contains iron sulfur) to maintain good color   

Vines-(morning glory, moon flower, clematis, red trumpet honeysuckle...) fertilize both annual / perennial (herbaceous and evergreen) varieties, minimize pruning to enhance display potential

Tomato & All Edibles-all plants require great deal of care and maintenance to insure good ‘fruit vegetable production including weed control, watering, fertilizing, pinching, etc. fertilize using types specifically formulated for food production-weather will play major role on harvest-June Strawberries-when finished bearing, thin plants, weed control, fertilize and mulch between rows

Herbs-full sun, very well drained soil for best aroma / flavor also minimize fertilizing and watering

Bulbs-tropical / summer varieties-elephant ears, cannas, caladiums, gladiolas, dahlias, etc. really start making a showing, fertilize / keep watered, any foliage left where spring bloomers grew cut off  

Ground Cover (ivy, sedum, ajuga, phlox, pachysandra, moneywort, etc.)-fertilize, weed (grassy and broadleaf) control with herbicide and or hand dig

Water Gardens / Fountains-(lotus, water lilies, water hyacinth, etc.) growth surge with warmer water temperatures, fountains keep water aerated (reducing algae bloom) 












Good Gardening--To each and everyone that stops by-I say to you the world of life and gardening is simply wonderfully wild and crazy

Paint and Brush