* Take root cuttings of woody shrubs and evergreens (such as azaleas, holly and hydrangeas) to propagate.
* Powdery mildew diseases attack a great many ornamentals, most often in late summer when the days are warm and nights are cool. Some mildews, particularly those on roses, apples, and cherries, are also increased by high humidity.
Prevention by proper cultural techniques is the first defense. Grow resistant varieties; space and prune plants to improve air flow and reduce shading; water early in the day and at the base rather than on leaves; and reduce nitrogen applications to avoid excessive, late-season growth.
* Water shrubs deeply once a week during August. Many plants including camellias and rhododendrons, are starting buds for next season’s bloom at this time. Immature berries of pyracantha and hollys may drop if the plants are water stressed. During hot, dry August days, avoid deep cultivation in your flower beds. Loosening the soil under these conditions reduces water uptake by increasing loss of soil water and damaging surface roots. Plants often look much worse after cultivation than before.
* Remember to give roses at least 1 inch of water per week. Remove spent blooms (deadheading) to encourage quicker re-bloom. Cut down into thick canes for largest blooms. Prune ¼ inch above an outward facing five-leaflet eye. Watch for spider mites on the underside of the upper leaves. A blast of water from underneath will discourage them. Continue fertilizing once a month for both August and September.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
* Strawberries, blueberries, and bramble fruits are forming buds for next year’s crop; keep them watered for better production.
* Fertilize strawberries in August. On plants set out this spring, apply 4 to 6 ounces of ammonium nitrate (33 percent actual nitrogen) or 12 to 18 ounces of 10-10-10 per 25 feet of row. Spread the fertilizer uniformly in a band 14 inches wide over the row when foliage (not the ground) is dry.
Brush fertilizer off the leaves to avoid leaf burn. For plants in the second year of growth, increase the application rate to 6-8 ounces ammonium nitrate or 18 to 24 ounces of 10-10-10 per 25 feet of row.
* Heavy rains at harvest can dilute the sugars in melons. Watermelons can reconcentrate sugar if left on the vine for a few dry days, but cantaloupes can’t.
* Harvest cantaloupes when the melons pull easily from the stem; honeydews when the blossom end is slightly soft or springy; watermelons when there is a hollow sound when thumped and skin loses its shine. Also, run your hand around the middle of the watermelon. When fully ripe, most varieties develop low, longitudinal ridges, rather like flexed calf muscles.
* Do not leave pears to ripen on the tree — they will be damaged if they fall and hit the ground. Pick when slightly green and wrap in newspaper to fully ripen.
* Start seeds of cool weather vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards and lettuce in order to transplant to the garden in early September.
* White fly may be a serious problem this month on tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and squash. There are no effective preventive measures, so it is important to control the population before they increase to damaging levels. Hang sticky yellow strips among your plants to trap these pests.
* Plant bush beans now for your fall crop. Watch out for insects, such as the Mexican Bean-Beetle.
* If going on vacation this month, be sure to harvest all your vegetables and then arrange for someone to pick fast-maturing crops, such as squash and okra; otherwise, they will become over mature and stop producing.
* Spider mites leave webs on the underside of leaves and eggs are laid in these webs. The grayish, stifled appearance of leaves infested with spider mites is a result of their feeding on plant juices. Spider mites thrive in hot, dry weather. For mild infestations, hose the foliage to wash off the mites. For severe problems, spray with an approved chemical according to label.
* Water your plants several hours before applying pesticides, especially during dry weather. Drought stressed plants have less water in their plant tissues. The chemicals that enter the leaves will be more concentrated and may burn the leaves.
* The last two weeks of August is the time to spray Kudzu with a non-selective weed killer or mow all visible foliage, since it is at its weakest at this time.
Information about Extension Solutions for Homes and Gardens can be found on the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension website at www.caes.uga.edu/extension/cherokee or by contacting the Cherokee County Extension Office at 100 North St., Suite G21 in Canton at (770) 479-0418. The Georgia Extension Master Gardener Program is a volunteer training program offered through county offices of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.