Shrub and Tree Care in the Middle of August

Shrub and Tree Care in the Middle of August

It’s been a stressful mid-summer for many of our plants. The weather has been endlessly sunny, hot and breezy: perfect for people at the beach, but very drying for plants. Even plants that have been regularly watered are suffering from the lack of regular rainfall.

So the first thing you can do for helping your shrubs and trees, is a deep soaking, provided there aren’t watering restrictions where you live.

Secondly if your plants aren’t mulched, an application of compost or composted manure around shrubs or trees will help amend the soil from the top down. This keeps plants healthy without further stressing them with fertilizer. (August isn’t a good time to fertilize most plants because that could prompt growth in September, just when you want your shrubs and trees to get ready for the winter.)

Here are photos of a few other things to watch for at this time of year.

Many hydrangeas have flowers that are fading or browning at this point. If they look unsightly, clip them off just below the bloom.
Leaf spot fungus shows up on plants that are frequently hit with water. Some of the spots you see now started this spring when it was so cool and wet. But others develop if plants are hit with irrigation too often. water deeply but less frequently to avoid leaf spots. And note that most of the time plants aren’t permanently harmed by leaf spot fungus…it’s a cosmetic problem. Should you want to protect undamaged leaves, however, use an organic fungicide such as Revitalize according to directions.
This is botrytis, aka gray mold, on a nine-bark. If your Physocarpus has a bad case of moldy leaves, cut it to the ground early next spring and dispose of the old stems and foliage. These plants come back well from the roots. In future years protect the foliage with an organic fungicide if desired.
Be on the lookout for all the vines that the birds “plant” around your shrubs and trees. This is green briar, aka Smilex. You’ll also find bittersweet, Rosa multiflora, poison ivy, Virginia creeper and wild grapes. Cut them off at ground level.
The best thing to do for trees at this time of year is a deep soaking once a week. Make sure to water well beyond the dripline, not just at the base of the trunk.
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