Hot August nights are here and with the heat, comes pests, disease, drought and heat stress. Check out our Timely Tips & Plant Doctor Quips for quick tips & product picks, curated monthly for the high desert gardener!

Plant Doctor Quips

South Virginia’s Plant Doctor, Michael Roth’s recommendation for battling the Hornworm: “As we are getting into Tomato Hornworm season I recommend several natural products for control. Diatomaceous earth dusting causes the Hornworm to dehydrate and die. I also recommend Bonide Captain Jack’s Deadbug with Spinosad.  It is a naturally derived pesticide that works on any insects that eat it by disrupting their nervous system leading to their death in one or two days.”

Moana Lane’s Plant Doctor, Jon Bruyn also suggests, “Fertilome Natural Guard Caterpillar Killer Spray with BT is what I would recommend for this tomato destroyer.”

Pyramid Way’s Plant Doctor, Angela Turner talks about Powdery Mildew. “Powdery Mildew is a fungus that thrives in hot, dry environments, so keep an eye out for it during these summer months. The spores are spread by the wind and then thrive in areas with poor air circulation. To help prevent infection, keep plants pruned and not overly dense to help with airflow. Once an infection is present, you can prune off and dispose of infected leaves to remove the fungus from the area. If the entire plant is affected, remove only the most heavily infected leaves. Treat the remaining infection with Bonide Neem Oil or Bonide Copper Fungicide. Do not compost any of the infected material, as the spores can continue to spread in the wind and can survive the composting process.”

Moana Lane’s Plant Doctor, Jon Bruyn suggests using, “Fertilome Tomato & Pepper Set because during this time of year our high afternoon temperatures can cause pollination failure. This product reduces the effect of dry climate and high temperatures by speeding up the pollination process. It may be used on many other vegetables to increase your yield.”

Wild Birds Unlimited Manager Lisa Braginton tell us that “A bird’s work is never done! The heat and dryness that characterize our northern Nevada summers have a direct impact on our songbird populations and all types of wildlife. It’s more important than ever to provide a reliable source of freshwater and quality feed. Most birds are molting, replacing old feathers with new, which is an energy intensive process. I suggest feeding with high quality seed packed with fats and proteins, like peanuts, nyjer, and sunflower chips. Our No-Mess Diced Peanut Blend is a favorite all year round, and No-Mess Plus Blend is an excellent source of extra fats and protein. Bug, Nut & Berry cylinders are a great, tidy way to feed the birds what they need right now, and don’t overlook continuing to offer mealworms, no-melt suet, or Birdacious Bark Butter in any form. Please don’t forget the jewels of the garden either! Keep fresh nectar out for the hummingbirds until the fall.

South Virginia’s Plant Doctor, Steve Packer shares his tip for watering your indoor plants: “It is best to not water your little green friends on a set schedule but according to water needs.  Before you water any plant stick you finger in the soil down to the second knuckle.  If it feels dry, then water thoroughly till it drains out the bottom. If it feels moist, then don’t water.  It’s that simple!

Moana Lane’s Plant Doctor, Gary Jentink says, “We all know it’s about to get HOT this month. The most important thing this time of year is to make sure your plants are properly watered. Many folks have a tendency to over-water so before increasing your clock, or watering extra with the garden hose, make sure to physically inspect the soil for moisture. As a general rule of thumb, if it feels even a little damp near the soil surface, wait another day. If the soil feels bone dry when digging around, or if you notice wilting, go ahead and give them a large drink.”

August Timely Tips

  • Mulch, mulch, mulch with G&B Organics Soil Building ConditionerSpreading a 3” layer of nutrient rich organic mulch around plants reduces water usage by up to 30%. Click here for benefits of mulch & proper way to spread it.
  • Caterpillars may be causing ongoing damage; treat with Captain Jack’s DeadBug Brew.
  • Some yellowing & browning of needles on pines can be expected at this time of year as old growth makes way for new. Excessive thinning on the interior of the tree and/or browning or dropping needles on the tips of your branches; however, are signs of a problem.  Bring in a branch and pictures to one of our plant doctors for a diagnosis.
  • Heat stressed trees will drop some leaves to conserve moisture. Additional watering and mulching will help somewhat in this situation.
  •  Inspect your irrigation system for leaks, clogged emitters, broken/clogged heads, and other problems.  Remember to adjust emitters out from the trunk or base of your plants as they grow.
  • Brown spots in your lawn could be a sign of insects, fungus, or lack of water from an improperly designed or malfunctioning irrigation system. To best diagnose the cause, bring in a lawn sample: 4” X 4” square and 2” deep that contains both healthy grass and affected grass to show our plant doctors.
  • Check all plants weekly to be sure they are getting adequate water; established trees, shrubs, perennials & roses require 1 inch of water per week throughout their root zones.  Water newly planted trees, shrubs, and perennials 3-4 times per week. 
  • Water infrequently and deeply – not frequently and lightly.  Early morning is always the best time to water.  Nighttime watering can cause fungus on grass and attract harmful insects.  Click here for How to Water Wisely for Healthy Plants.
  • Fertilize lawns with a sustained release fertilizer like G&B Organics Lawn Fertilizer or Iron to keep them green and water efficient through the hot months. Check out Water-Saving Lawn Practices Article.
  • Control sucking insect pests, including aphids, mealybugs, scale, spider mites, thrips, whitefly and others with lady bugs or Bonide Insecticidal Soap. For chewing insects such as caterpillars, use Captain Jack’s DeadBug Brew or Natural Guard BT Caterpillar Spray, an organic insecticide for chewing insects. Ask us what’s best for controls on significant infestations.
  • Bonide Tomato & Vegetable 3 in 1 may be used as an insecticide, fungicide & miticide up to the day of harvest.
  • Continue to cultivate and weed. 
  • White grub damage in lawns will begin to show up as browned-out areas of turf that pull back easily – like a carpet.  Pull back turf and count grubs (white C-shaped larvae with black heads); 10-12 per square foot requires treatment.  Use Bonide Annual Grub Beater according to the label.
  • Watch closely for signs of scorch on tender new foliage – the margins of leaves turn brown and crispy – indicating lack of water and/or exposure to hot drying winds.
  • Monitor newly planted trees and shrubs for insects or disease. New growth is often the first area to be attacked by insects.
  • Pruning is generally not advised this month except for shrubs that have just flowered; prune immediately following their flowering.
  • Fertilize roses for the third and final time on or before August 15th with G&B Organics Rose & Flower Fertilizer. Do not fertilize after August 15th.
  • Regular feeding is important for vibrant blooms & healthy plants. Don’t put off fertilizing – feeding too late in the season will put plants at risk when cold weather arrives.
  • For continued blooming consistently deadhead roses by cutting flowers back to the first set of five leaflets. Read our article here to learn how to keep your roses blooming.
  • Monitor roses closely for powdery mildew. If detected, spray with Bonide Neem Oil or Copper Fungicide immediately. Dispose of infected leaves in the trash; do not compost.
  • Remove yellowing daylily foliage or leaves that are browned and spotted.  Green leaves must remain on the plant to continue to manufacture food.  Deadhead individual flowers to keep plants looking tidy.
  • Perk up your flower beds and containers with late summer blooming perennials such as asters, mums & anemones.
  • Continue deadheading other annuals and perennials to encourage more flowering. 
  • Fertilize container plants and hanging baskets up to twice per week with FoxFarm Big Bloom liquid fertilizer and G&B Organics Bud & Bloom fertilizer every two months but avoid applying in the heat of the day.  Always water plants before adding liquid fertilizer and avoid fertilizing drought-stressed plants.
  • Get the most out of your potted annuals and hanging baskets by feeding them G&B Organics Rose & Flower or G&B Organics Bud & Bloom granular fertilizers and FoxFarm Tiger Bloom liquid fertilizer or Fertilome Blooming & Rooting water soluble fertilizer.  Avoid applying in the heat of the day and always water plants before adding liquid fertilizer.
  • Continue planting new perennials, ornamental grasses & roses.
  • Plant cool season fall crops in succession now. 
  • Use Pest Wizard codling moth traps in apple trees to monitor their activity and spray with Captain Jack’s DeadBug Brew when they are active.
  • Remember that deep root watering your apple trees throughout the season will ensure maximum fruit production.  Remove fruit infested with codling moths from the tree and pick up any that has dropped on the ground promptly and discard in trash to reduce codling moth population.  
  • Keep vegetables picked so the plants will keep producing.
  • Monitor tomatoes and ensure that they receive an even supply of moisture instead of heavy soaking and then a drought. 
  • Keep records of harvest dates to help plan next year’s garden.
  • Monitor vegetables for symptoms of fungus or blight: soft, darkened areas, yellow and dropping leaves, sunken dark spots on otherwise green foliage.
  • Monitor all plants for insects.  Hand-remove large insects such as tomato hornworms, cicadas, caterpillars, and squash bugs.
  • Continue to harvest herbs to use fresh, dry, or freeze in small batches in an ice cube tray.  Pinch off developing flowers to retain essential oils and flavor in the plant’s foliage.
  • Continue fertilizing vegetables with G&B Organics Tomato, Vegetable & Herb fertilizer every two months and FoxFarm Tiger Bloom and Big Bloom liquid fertilizers up to twice per week.
  • Store bird food in a sealed container and keep in a cool dry place to prevent spoilage.
  • To ensure that bird seed is eaten quickly and stays fresh, keep feeders filled with a one- or two-day supply of seed.  This makes your bird feeding less wasteful and more economical.
  • Add movement to birdbaths with water wigglers to attract more birds.  A mister is also an attractant – especially for hummingbirds.
  • Many birds continue their main molt (replacement of their feathers) which requires extra protein to grow strong feathers for proper flight and effective insulation. For the next few months, offer high-protein bird foods, such as nyjer, peanuts, Jim’s Birdacious Bark Butter® and mealworms, to ensure that your birds have a reliable source of protein to help them with molting.
  • Rufous hummingbirds have arrived in the area and will stay until fall, so keep feeders full of fresh sugar water until then.  Be sure to change every few days to avoid spoilage — more frequently if in full sun all day.  To be of the best help to your hummingbirds and for great family entertainment, add a few extra feeders when rufous are in town. Hummingbird window feeders make for great close-up birdwatching and can help give each bird their own space, or place several High-Perch feeders throughout the yard. Because Rufous are so feisty and territorial, be sure that no feeder is in the sightline of the others.
  • Continue to supply fresh water and change it every 3 days to keep it clean.  To prevent the chance of disease, clean birdbath weekly with a weak bleach solution (1-part bleach to 9 parts water) and rinse well.
  • Install a customized Wild Birds Unlimited APS bird feeding station where you can easily watch the birds it attracts.  It can be installed in the ground or on a deck.
  • Our Seasonal Color Team can help you with custom containers, annual planting beds or a simple refresh of your existing garden. Schedule a free consultation today! 
  • Need help with your indoor plants? Contact our Interior Plant Services team. They can help you design, install and maintain your indoor plants! Want a WOW plant presentation? Ask about installing a LIVING PLANT WALL! Examples of plant walls are available to see at both our Moana Lane and Pyramid Way locations.