There’s no two ways about it, August in the Southwest is scorching hot, hot, hot. It’s time for Southwest gardeners to kick back and enjoy the garden, but there are always a few August gardening tasks that just won’t wait.
Don’t give up on your Southwest garden in August, but always save energy-draining tasks for early morning before the heat of the day. Here is your garden to-do list for August.
August Gardening Tasks in the Southwest
Water cacti and other succulents carefully. You may be tempted to provide extra water when the temperature soars, but keep in mind that desert plants are accustomed to arid conditions and are prone to rot when conditions are too damp.
Pay extra attention to container grown plants, as many will need watering twice daily during late summer. Most trees and shrubs should be watered deeply once every month. Allow a hose to trickle at the dripline, which is the point where water would drip from the outer edges of the branches.
Water plants early in the day, as the sun dries the soil quickly. Continue to feed plants regularly using a water-soluble fertilizer.
Your garden to-do list should include a replacement of mulch that has decomposed or blown away. A layer of mulch will keep the soil cooler and prevent the evaporation of precious moisture.
Deadhead annuals and perennials regularly to promote continued blooming well into the fall months. Continue to keep weeds in check. Remove weeds before they bloom to minimize reseeding next year. Remove annuals that didn’t survive midsummer heat. Replace them with gazania, ageratum, salvia, lantana, or other bright, heat-loving annuals.
August is a good time to prune wayward oleander. If the plants are overgrown and too tall, cut them back to about 12 inches (31 cm.). If growth is woody or leggy, remove about one-third of the stems at the base of the shrub. Provide food and water after pruning.
What to do in summer? Grab a cold drink, find a shady spot, and think about future plans for your Southwest garden. Peruse seed catalogs, read gardening blogs, or visit a local nursery or greenhouse.