10 Gardening Activities for August in the Northeast
Here is a collection of garden reminders, inspiring ideas, maintenance tips, and places to visit this month.
1. Northeast Gardens to Visit (in person or from home)
There are many extraordinary gardens, so we created a collection of self-guided day trips with beautiful photos to browse from home, along with insights and information to help you plan your next trip and make the most of your time in each location!
It's no wonder Philadelphia is called America’s Garden Capital! Local garden expert Jerry Fritz (have you been to his Linden Hill Gardens?!) shares 3 of his favorite gardens in our Philadephia day trip—including Chanticleer of course!
Barbara Katz, of London Landscapes, takes us to her favorite gardens in our Washington D.C. day trip, rich in history and plants. Her passion for the garden will simply delight you!
2. Fertilize Trees and Shrubs One Last Time
After mid-August, you won’t want to fertilize your trees and shrubs again, so make sure you get it done in time. Freezing temperatures are just a few months away, so you don’t want to promote soft new growth on trees and shrubs too late in the season. The young branches won’t have time to harden off in preparation for cold temperatures and winter elements.
3. Protect Crops That Are Still Producing
August is often peak harvest for summer vegetables, so you should be harvesting daily or at least several times per week. If you experience extreme heat this month, cover your crops with shade tunnels. You can also buy a pre-made shade structure. If you’re getting an abundance of produce, make salsas, purees, and sauces. Check out this salsa and mole cookbook or this marinara sauce recipe from gardener Kevin Lee Jacobs.
4. Sow and Transplant Fall Crops
It’s time to sow beets, carrots, kale, dill, mesclun, spinach, tatsoi, winter squash, gourds, and other cool-season crops. At this point, if you want to plant broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower, it’s best to use starts instead of seeds. Keep plants well watered in the heat. If you want your crops to ripen throughout the cool season, plant them in succession weekly. For more, see 15 Picks for Your Fall Vegetable Garden.
5. Plan Your Bulb Garden and Order Bulbs Now
The early shoppers will get the good bulbs. Bulbs are extremely popular these days because many don’t require much water, they’re easy to grow, and some varieties naturalize or spread in the garden, so every year you get more bulbs. Alliums, daffodils, and species tulips are examples of especially tough bulbs. Bulb suppliers also provide lists of bulbs that naturalize well and spread in the garden. There are also lists of deer-resistant bulbs and much more. Old House Gardens and Brent and Becky's Bulbs are both good sources.
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6. Blooming Now
Hydrangeas are not only great in the garden, but make for beautiful cut branches. Keep them happily growing this month by making sure the plant doesn’t dry out, as they like to have moist soil.
You can deadhead your shrub roses throughout the summer as necessary, except for varieties that produce hips—let them go to develop fruit.
If your Veronica plants (speedwell) aren’t producing as many flowers as you’d like, they might be in too much shade, so give ‘em some sun!
7. Mulch Your Garden
If you have spots of open soil that haven’t been filled in with plants, then add mulch. Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil until plants fill in. It also helps soil microbes develop, which are good for plant roots. You typically need mulch for the first year or two after planting to help minimize weeds. After that, plants will shade out most weeds. Try to fill in open spots in the garden with enough groundcovers, low grasses, and other perennials so that no soil or mulch are showing. Learn more about the types of mulch and how to mulch properly.
8. Order Daylilies
If you still need to order daylilies, like Rainbow Rhythm® Nosferatu from Proven Winners (pictured), it's not too late. You can also try Oakes Daylilies for some fun varieties: small purple ‘Little Grapette’ with flowers that are only a few inches across, large red ‘Spider Man’ with flowers that are 7 inches across, and ‘Siloam Double Classic’ with a double form that looks like a peony. We also recommend checking out Colorful Chaos Daylily.
9. Plant and Divide Peonies
From late August through September you can divide and transplant peonies and plant new varieties. It’s a good idea to get them in roughly 6 weeks before your first frost. Itoh peonies, a hybrid between tree peonies and herbaceous peonies, are particularly good to plant. They have a longer flowering season than other peonies with as many as 50 flowers on a single plant throughout a season. After flowering, Itohs keep their large, green foliage. Good sources for peonies include Adelman Peony Gardens and I Love Peonies. Learn more about growing peonies.
10. Online Learning
There’s plenty you can learn online when it comes to gardening! From planning a sustainable flower garden to seed starting, this collection of courses comes from experts like Karen Chapman, Joe Lamp’l, Stephanie Rose, Longwood Gardens, and more. Categories include edible gardening, containers, garden design, plants, and gardening basics.
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