Pick peppers, tomatoes, and tomatillos early in the morning on the day you plan to eat them. Select squash, okra, eggplants, and cucumbers when they are small and tender. Use sharp clippers or a small knife to harvest these to avoid tearing the vines or stalks. Southern peas should also be picked early, as they ripen, for best flavor. Just make sure the pod is filled out before harvesting.
For a big show of fall flowers, prune and feed hybrid teas, such as ‘Mr. Lincoln,’ and everblooming roses, such as ‘Knock Out,’ now. Reduce healthy canes by about one-third, and remove any dead ones. Add a thin layer of composted manure around the base of your plants to improve the soil. Feed with a rose fertilizer, such Schultz Expert Gardener Rose Food 19-24-24 or Schultz Rose Food Liquid Plant Food 10-12-12.
back leggy annuals now so they will be full in the fall. Cut back impatiens (shown at left), coleus, begonias, narrow-leaf zinnias, and salvias by one-third. Water and then fertilize. Use a slow-release, granular fertilizer such as Dynamite Flowers & Vegetables 13-13-13 or Scotts All Purpose Flower & Vegetable Continuous Release Plant Food 10-10-10.
Keep a watchful eye on your pots, window boxes, and hanging baskets this month. By now the plants have grown out and their roots have developed fully, maximizing water usage. Monitor your plants closely, and water regularly; daily watering is not unusual.
If you love split-leaf philodendrons, but do not have a lot of room, try growing a ‘Xanadu’ philodendron instead. Its smaller size makes it ideal in tighter locations. It’s very easy to please and thrives in low to medium light. Feed regularly, and allow the soil to slightly dry between watering.
These are some of the best perennials for shade gardens. Good choices include ‘August Moon,’ ‘Blue Angel,’ ‘Patriot,’ and ‘Halcyon.’ Look for these at your garden center or nursery. There are hundreds of selections. One of the best mail-order sources for hostas in the South is Plant Delights Nursery, www.plantdelights.com or (919) 772-4794.