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Home > Care > Tips for August

Tips for August
by Brad Thompson

1. Fertilizing: Continue fertilizing regularly using quarter strength fertilizer once a week. Your begonias will not grow to their best if you are a sporadic fertilizer. You will notice a big difference in how well your plants grow with regular feeding.

2. Cleanup: Keeping your plants clean and groomed will go a long way toward keeping them healthy. Rinsing off the leaves occasionally will be a big help and wonít damage the majority of plants. There are a few delicate exceptions but most of us have probably killed those delicate ones already some other way. Just kidding, kind of. Keep dead flowers and stipules removed from your plants. Removing spent blooms will put the energy back into the plant and new flowers. Besides your plants will look better. That applies to all plants, not just begonias. Removing dried stipules will help you eliminate a favorite hiding place for mealybugs.

3. Pests: Try hard to keep up with inspecting your begonias and other plants for giant whiteflies and other pests. Giant whiteflies are easy to miss because they make their clusters under the leaves and you donít notice them until they have built a large colony. Looking inside and under the leaves of your plants will help you locate pests and get rid of them before they become a major infestation. Carefully check any plants you purchase to make sure you donít bring home the giant whiteflies from meetings.

4. Mildew & Disease: We shouldnít be having a mildew problems right now, but I have noticed some mildew in my yard and others too. Keeping mildewed leaves removed and spraying will help stop it from becoming a major problem. As I have said previously, sometimes moving those plants to another location will help them not be so susceptible in the future. Last year I experimented with using Rose Defense on mildew and will say that it cured the mildew and didnít harm any plants. As will all products follow the directions on the label and donít spray plants in the sun or if their soil is dry.

5. Pruning & Pinching: Although by this time of year you donít need to do any heavy pinching or pruning, if you want shapely plants for next year keep pinching or pruning wrong facing or stray branches. Younger plants that you are growing up for specimen plants, such as plants you recently bought at sales need regular shaping. Donít worry about getting blooms, itís more important to get a full shapely plant first. Especially pinch out the tip on leggy or single stemmed young plants so theyíll branch and put up new growth.

6. Watering: Your plants will be needing watering more now that the weather is warm. I generally water my begonias about twice a week during warm weather. This is only an example, not a guide, but should give you some idea how often you really need to water. This is a hard time of hear to gauge how often to water. You have to find a balance between letting the plants dry out a little without letting them get so dry they wilt. If you have certain plants that dry out before the others it is time to move them up to larger pots so theyíll need watering at the same time as the others. Grouping plants of similar sizes together makes watering much easier since they all dry out at the same time. It is not a good idea to mix all sizes together. Keep your small plants in a separate area because they dry out faster than the others do and itís easy to miss one amongst the larger plants.

7. Repotting: In observing your plants you may notice some that dry out faster or slower than the other plants around them. These plants probably need repotting. Potting up in the case of plants that dry out too soon and possibly potting down for those that are staying too wet or donít seem to be growing back too well from pruning. You can safely repot all begonias now.

8. General Notes: When you buy plants at sales itís important to pot them into your mix right away, even if itís into the same size pot. Even if the mix appears to be the same one you use, it wonít hurt them to be repotted into fresh mix. Since this is prime growing weather, move up any that are root bound or if the roots have filled the mix. There is the school of though that you should give the plant time to adjust to your yard before you do anything to it like repotting. The problem with that is you are not going to water a plant correctly in someone elseís mix and the plant could die while you wait for it to adjust. I have never given a plant time to adjust and always repot every plant I bring home the day I bring it home. It is easier on the plant if you keep new plants that you just repotted in the shadier parts of your yard for a couple of weeks. That is usually enough to help them adjust to the repotting and the new environment.


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