Scorching August Heat Means Watering #1 Job For All Gardeners!

We continue to experience scorching August heat which means watering is job number one in the Oklahoma garden.  Sunlight, carbon dioxide and water are the most essential elements for our friends in the plant world.  The sun is quite dependable and appears in varying intensity every day.  We humans and other animal life generate lots of carbon dioxide that our plants need as we need the fresh oxygen our plants produce.  Water is the least dependable of these required life elements for your trees, shrubs, vegetables, and flowers.  To maintain optimum plant health we humans often have to supplement natural rains with extra water for our plants, especially in the hot & windy Oklahoma summers.  Regular watering by drip, water hose or sprinkler can keep your plants from stress and keep them growing and productive.  Mulching with bark, hulls, pine straw or other natural mulches can cool your plant roots and reduce watering demand by half or more.

You can still plant a variety of vegetables for your fall vegetable garden although we run out of time each week on a few more of the fall vegetable crops.  Check out the Oklahoma State University extension fact sheet on fall gardening or visit your local nursery or garden center for updated details on the fall vegetable gardening schedule to beat the winter freeze.

It is still early and too hot for fall plantings of pansies, ornamental kale and cabbage but there are many other plants planted at this season as folks dress up their yards and container gardens for fall parties and events or just for personal enjoyment.  We still have ten weeks or more left of this growing season and lots of gardeners plant petunias, begonias, impatiens or a multitude of other color annuals to get a burst of fall color as the days start to get shorter and the evenings and days get cooler.  Remember these new plantings are even more dependent on you for supplemental watering in the heat as they do not have as large and established of a root system.

Your existing flowering annuals will often get a new burst of growth as the temperatures start to cool.  Many annuals that have survived the summer heat will also produce a surge of new flowers as the temperatures begin to temper or cool.  One fun thing to look forward to as we approach fall is deeper color or intensity on many of our flower blooms.  Pink, red, blue, orange, yellow and purple flowers will be darker and more intense as we move from August to September and into October.  The summer heat bleaches out many of these colors and their intensity returns as the night temperatures drop.  Watch your flowers over the next couple of months to enjoy this cool act of nature in your own yard.

We continue to battle the pests of summer as we have seen significant bagworm damage on many of our junipers and needle evergreens.  Left unchecked they can literally defoliate and kill these evergreens, usually from the lower foliage moving up.  Watch for the tell-tale bags and hand pick these bagworms to put in the trash or visit your local garden center to select a spray solution to battle this problem.  Red spider mites are also loving the heat and multiplying like crazy to attack your plants.  When they get real bad they even create webs like traditional spiders.

Water, observe and enjoy your garden even when it is hot.  Soon it will cool down and both you and your garden plants will be re-energized!

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