As we swelter through the final days of August, it's easy to give up on the few heat-bowed flowers still struggling in the garden and turn our thoughts to fall gardening chores and cooler weather.
But with a little tender loving care, late blooming annuals and perennials will provide a showy display well into September. Just give them some extra TLC and bold, vibrant asters, perky zinnias, cheery golden-orange rudbeckia; bright yellow sunflowers and charming chrysanthemums will grace your garden with their brightly colored poms and daisy petals until Jack Frost finally stretches his icy fingers across the gardenscape.
To get the most from these final fragrant days of summer, follow these tips for nursing late summer bloomers through the dog days of August and into the fall:
- Get rid of tired, wilted blossoms. Deadhead late-blooming flowers to improve appearance and encourage additional flowering. Frequent deadheading can prolong displays until frost.
- Give stooped plants a helping hand. Stake tall flowers to prevent toppling. Surround flower clumps with a ring of low stakes. Run garden string around the stakes to provide support for the plant. Make a note for next year to set grow-through supports around these plants in early summer.
- Tidy the garden. Cut back flowers that have finished flowering to prevent dead leaves and stalks from cluttering the garden. Hoe out weed seedlings regularly and remove larger weeds before they seed.
- Freshen up plants. During dry weather, give flowers a good soaking twice a week.
- Stay vigilant. As you weed and water, inspect plants for signs of disease or pests. Treat problems promptly.
It's not too late to add a few mums, ornamental cabbages or winter pansies to the garden. In most regions of the country, we still have at least six more weeks to enjoy our gardens before Jack Frost makes his rounds.