Central Texas has a lot going for it in the gardening realm, if you know how to play it. For one thing, we have fabulous fall weather, which our plants really love. As gardeners, we can prepare for that extra “push” the fall will give us. But, only if we prepare now, from mid to late August.

Roses are looking stressed and tired from the long, hot summer. Pruning shrub roses back by 1/3 and fertilizing with an organic rose fertilizer such as Fox Farm Rose Food will bring on those fall blooms with vigor! You can access our August Rose Pruning video on YouTube.

Many of our summer-blooming perennials are looking “tired” from the extreme heat we have experienced this summer. They can also benefit by a light shearing (no more than 1/3 of the growth) and fertilization with an organic fertilizer (such as MicroLife 6-2-4) this month. Salvia greggii, Lantana, Butterfly bush, Tropical Milkweed, Lavender, Pink skullcap, Dicliptera, Justicia, Globe Mallow and Henry Duelberg Salvia are a few examples.

Shrubs may also benefit from a light shearing and fertilization this month. While many shrubs are simply “sheared”, there are some that benefit aesthetically by removing the long shoots that grow out, cutting back to within the body of the plant to where they join another shoot. This leaves the shrub looking more “natural”. It is tidy, but not the “formal” sheared look. Some of the shrubs that would benefit from this type of pruning are Texas Sage, Abelia, Bush Germander, Jerusalem Sage, and Lorpetalum. Remember, Nandina should never be “sheared”. Simply cut the tallest or unwanted shoots back to the ground to encourage new growth to form and fill in the plant from the bottom. This avoids the “witches broom” effect that comes from shearing the top of these shrubs.

Spring-blooming vines should receive any last minor pruning this month to ensure the flower buds for spring will form on new growth this fall.

Even ground covers which are looking stressed from the summer heat will benefit from pruning at this time. Use a string-trimmer or lawn mower on Asian Jasmine, Mondo grass, Liriope or Vinca major that have suffered from drought, insect pests or disease this summer. Fertilize with MicroLife 6-2-4, water with an inch of water regularly, and you will have attractive ground cover in a few weeks’ time.

I hope you can find the time this month to take advantage of this “window” of opportunity to assist our plants in rejuvenating growth. This new growth will also build more carbohydrates through the added photosynthesis produced in the new leaves.  With these extra “stores” of carbohydrates, plants will winter better and produce more growth next spring. You can see that this is a win-win situation for both our aesthetic enjoyment and the plant’s overall health.