What to do in your garden in August

KIM NELSON,  –  June 20, 2005


Celebrate cactus and succulents in Scottsdale Desert plant aficionados can reap information and inspiration at the Cactus & Succulent Society of America’s biennial convention (Aug 5-10 in Scottsdale; visit www.cssainc.org/convent.html for details). The schedule includes lectures by experts, workshops, field trips, and more. Membership (from $35, required to attend) is available at registration.


Aromatic plants Dampened by summer rain or rustled by the wind, some plants exude intense fragrance. To add an aromatic dimension to your garden, set out these plants now: Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii), Copper Canyon daisy (Tagetes lemmonii), creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), indigo bush (Dalea bicolor or D. pulchra), and English or French lavender.

Late-summer herbs, veggies Sunset climate zones 1a-3b: Sow seeds of arugula, bush beans, carrots, lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach, and turnips. Set out transplants of cole crops (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower) and herbs (chives, marjoram, oregano, thyme). Zones 10, 11: Sow beans, corn, cucumber, and squash. Set out transplants of cole crops (see above), cucumbers, potatoes, and spinach, plus herbs, including basil, lemon balm, and pineapple sage. Zones 12, 13: Sow bush beans, carrots, collards, corn, green onions, summer squash, and turnips. Set out transplants of basil, chives, lemon balm, lemon verbena, and Mexican oregano.

Perennials for butterflies Provide nectar-rich flowers as well as larval plants to invite butterflies such as swallowtails into your garden. Now through October, plant Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica), black-eyed Susan, butterfly bush, butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), creeping thyme, Gaura lindheimeri ‘Siskiyou Pink’ or ‘Whirling Butterflies’, lantana, and yarrow.

Wildflowers At higher elevations, seeds sown now through October will develop into stunning floral displays next spring. In zones 1a-3b, try asters, blue flax, and Rocky Mountain penstemon. In zones 10 and 11, sow bachelor’s button, black-eyed Susan, Mexican hat, poppies, and wild pink snapdragon. Cultivate soil lightly, broadcast seeds, then cover with a thin layer of organic mulch; water to keep the soil moist until seeds germinate. One good source is Wild Seed (602/276-3536).


Care for roses Zones 1a-3b: To discourage tender new growth that might be damaged by early frost, reduce irrigation and stop feeding. Zones 10-13: Apply a balanced fertilizer for more abundant fall flowers.

Fertilize Feed citrus trees, landscape plants, and lawns with a high-nitrogen fertilizer (20-10-10, for example). Feed flowers and vegetables with fertilizer that’s high in phosphorus (15-30-15).

Rejuvenate tomatoes Cut indeterminate, vining-type tomato plants back to 1 foot, fertilize, and water deeply to encourage a fall crop.

Use ergonomic tools Avid gardeners who do a lot of pruning or digging can suffer from hand, wrist, and elbow pain caused by repetitive motion or overuse. To ease or prevent discomfort, use ergonomically designed tools. One source: Life with Ease or 800/966-5119.