The heat of August comes with its own soundtrack. The buzz of cicadas, a blue jay’s call, and the skittering of drying winds that swirl the leaves and dust into a small storm. If we are lucky the excessive heat brings thunder and cooling rains, allowing gardeners to push the reset button and take a break. Always hopeful, but never counted on. There is a lull in the garden this time of year. Weed season has passed and it seems too hot to head outdoors for hard work.
So, can you plant in August and is it a good idea?
The short answer is YES, You can definitely plant in August.
This is definitely a yes and no kind of question. It is always a good idea to plant (native species)... IF you also have time to water. I generally slow things down this time of year (though I still manage to install my share of new plants) and make sure that what I did plant earlier in the season is all set. Soaking them once or twice a week, fertilizing if necessary, and checking new plantings regularly to reposition if a squirrel was busy rummaging around (oh, the squirrels).
If you are planting now, you can follow some guidelines to help make things go smoothly.
1. Give your plants a good watering prior to planting.
Tucking them in the ground while fully hydrated will ensure that there is already moisture in the soil and it will help them withstand the planting process. Choosing a cloudy day or planting early in the morning before the sun is on full blast will keep the roots from drying out if exposed during the process.
2. After you plant, add a thin layer of quality mulch (pulverized hardwood, leaf or compost) to the top to prevent evaporation and to keep soil in place. 2" should do it.
Make sure all plants are dusted off and standing upright when done. Avoid mulch directly at the base of your plant as this may cause rot.
3. Water. Then water again.
Set a sprinkler on your new garden and let it run, making sure that the entire area gets a good soak. To test how well you did, take your shovel and dig down several inches; it should be moist all the way down
So, there you have it.
You can definitely plant in August.
Plant away! When you plant natives in August, just have your hose handy and choose your plants wisely. Go for things that can take a dry spell or two and that don’t mind disturbed soil and less hospitable conditions.
Plants such as Bouteloua curtipendula (side oats grama), Verbena stricta (hoary vervain) and (Zizia Aptera (heart-leaf golden alexanders) come to mind.
Spacing things close together (12" apart) is great for crowding out potential weeds and makes for a matrix of flowers, colors and textures spring through fall.
North Branch Natives blog posts are shared monthly with www.journal-topics.com.