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Gardening With Laurie: Water, fertilizer help plants survive summer heat

By Victoria Advocate
Aug. 25, 2011 at 3:25 a.m.

Laurie Garretson

By Laurie Garretson

One thing these days that most gardeners are spending a lot of time on is watering. As dry as the soil has become in the past weeks, it's all anyone can do to just try and get some water to all areas of the landscape. For many homeowners, this can easily be a full-time job. But each day, we're one day closer to the next good rain.

Colorful potted plants make great additions to all gardens. Because of the extreme temperatures this summer, your spring-planted annual container plants are needing lots of water. By now, the root systems on these plants has probably filled the pots. You can continue watering once or twice a day, or you could repot the plants into a larger containers.

Give the roots more room, and you'll water less often. Feed all potted plants at least every couple of weeks with an organic fertilizer, liquid seaweed, Hasta-Gro, Rose-Glo, Johns' Recipe, whichever type you prefer. With the amount of water we're having to apply to all the landscape, we are leaching out very beneficial nutrients. In times of stress, such as drought and high temperatures, plants need help to stay healthy.

We are coming to a time of the year when it's too early to plant cool season annuals, and it's getting late in the season for heat-loving annuals. But if your hot weather annuals are beginning to show signs of stress, you might want to replant. You should still be able to find good selections of colorful heat loving annuals available.

One group of plants we gardeners tend to find growing well, even during very stressful weather conditions, are weeds. Very stressful weather conditions can also make it easy for gardeners to ignore the weeds. A few times a week try to devote 20 to 30 minutes, either early morning or late evening, to do some weeding. You will be glad you did when the temperature becomes more inviting.

By now, much of the mulch you applied in spring has decayed and thinned out. It's time to remulch all gardens, beds and any bare soil areas with 4 to 5 inches of mulch.

For those of you who enjoy growing from seed, it's a good time to start your cool season annual seeds in flats or small pots to raise for transplants. Keep in mind that many cool season annuals will require cool conditions to germinate.

For beautiful fall blooming roses, continue feeding with your Rose-Glo, or other favorite organic fertilizer, every couple of weeks, or at least once a month. Try to keep all your roses deadheaded to encourage new buds.

This time of year, basil plants need regular trimming to keep flower heads off. Flower heads cause plants to stop producing leaves. Basil leaves are usually what we grow basil for. If your thyme, lavender, sage and catnip plants are struggling through this harsh summer, they should begin to revive as soon as the temperatures cool down some. Feed them with an organic fertilizer, keep them well watered and mulched.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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