August can be a hard month for the committed gardener. Plants that looked bright and healthy in July may now be looking tired and straggly. So, what can you do to make sure your hard work earlier in the year continues to pay off through the coming month?
Regular watering and feeding is essential, of course. In pots, the nutrients in the compost will have been used up, so all the more important to add a feed. If you’re going on holiday, ask a friendly neighbour to water your pots – even when it rains. Rain doesn’t always penetrate through plants into the compost.
Root out the weeds
Keep weeding – with the rain we’ve had recently, weeds are springing up once again. Make sure you get the whole root out, particularly with dandelions and dock. Bindweed can be a nightmare at this time of year and it’s even more important to get the root out completely; if you leave even the tiniest bit in the plant will regenerate. If you can’t get to the root, you will just have to cut the plant at ground level – but you’ll have to keep doing it throughout the season.
Give your plants the chop!
Dead heading will elongate the flowering season of many summer bedding and patio plants, including sweet peas, geraniums and petunias. If you look closely you will see new shoots coming through, but while the plant is still putting energy into the old shoots these won’t reach their full potential. Dead heading can be a soothing occupation on a summer’s evening, preferably with a glass of chilled wine on the go!
While some plants are looking tired, August is a great month for hydrangeas. There are so many varieties now beyond the blues and pinks that many of us grew up with, that you’ll be spoiled for choice. Crocosmia are coming into their own now, with the fiery orange and reds. Sneak in a few dahlias for brilliant colour, we have some wonderful choices available.
Plant more seeds
You can still sow seeds in August, including forget me nots, pansies, poppies – and of course lettuce, which can be picked into the Autumn (though you’ll need to be careful of slugs). Otter Garden Centres always have special offers on seeds at this time of year, so look out for our half price packets for Johnsons and Thompson & Morgan seeds in one of our five branches across the South West.