September Color Depends on June and July

If I'd planted Thunbergia alata seeds in June, they'd be blooming now.
 Remember how perky your plants looked in June? So fresh and full of hope? You were filled with anticipation, leaping out of bed each morning to see what was happening in the garden. And then August arrives. It’s hot, humid, the mosquitoes are biting you while humongous grasshoppers are chomping on your plants. In short, it’s not looking that good in August despite your best efforts.

Keeping your garden going through the end of the season requires a bit of planning. For instance, in July, you should be:

  • cutting back spring and early-summer bloomers like geranium and salvia (basically anything that is finished blooming by July 4)
  • giving mums and asters their final pinch
  • topdressing containers with some time-release food
  • continuing to feed with half strength water soluble fertilizer every other time you water
  • deadheading your roses and the annuals that need it
  • trimming back damaged leaves
  • pinching Coleus and other foliage plants.
On a crisp day in July (the plants were crisp, not the air), I forced myself to brutally lop off the spent blossoms of Hydrangea serrata. They had been providing some color, sure, but it wasn't a fresh color if you know what I mean. Because I overlooked their awkwardly topless demeanor for a month while they recovered, I now have a fresh flush of green to accent the flowers of adjacent late bloomers.
Other plants that benefit from a severe stem cut are perennial Geranium and Salvia. Perennial Salvia, (i.e. 'May Night',  'Caradonna', 'East Friesland') which offers spiky blue blossoms in May, can be coaxed into a late summer flush of color by pruning it half way down after most of the blooms are gone, usually in mid-June.

Geranium 'Rozanne' and Salvia nemerosa both look fresh in September after being cut back by the end of June-early July.
French marigolds are easy to start from seed
I don't have Marigolds this year because I didn't plant them. But I miss their bright, shiny faces, so I'll be putting a reminder on my calendar for early June, 2014 so that I'll have them from August through October.

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