Top 5 Summer Garden Tasks For Beautiful Blooms

Today in my little corner of East Texas it is 97 degrees Fahrenheit and 51% humidity.  The thought of going outdoors to work in the garden at 2 pm does not appeal to me. Most of Texas is under a heat advisory. You can’t turn on the television or scroll through Instagram without seeing public service messages warning folks to avoid getting overheated.

If you have a flower garden they require a little extra effort to survive the heat, humidity and pest pressure. Start early in the morning and wear a hat and sunscreen. Stay hydrated with water or iced tea while your working and take frequent breaks. Regardless of whether or not I’ve completed all my garden chores, I quit by 9 am. Read on for my 5 summer garden tasks to help your blooms beat the heat.

Here are my top 5 tasks for keeping your flowers vibrant and blooming through the hottest months of summer.

#1. Mulch. Gather pine straw, bark or leaves to cool the ground around your perennial shrubs and annuals. This will also help prevent your water from evaporating.


#2. Deep water 2-3 times a week. You may be surprised to find that your water sprinkler is not watering sufficiently. Annuals and shrubs need deep watering. This encourages their roots to search deep into the soil for water. When you sprinkle a little water on the surface for 10 -15 minutes the plants root system develops very shallow. Use soaker hoses and a timer to water in the early morning hours. 





#3. Stay alert for pests! Grasshoppers, aphids, cucumber and Japanese beetles as well as other hot summer pests can destroy all your beautiful flowers in a very short time. Ducks are great foragers for insect pests. My favorite breed are Indian Runners. Diatomaceous Earth {always use food-grade DE} can be very efficient at controlling most pests but it will need to be reapplied almost daily. I use an old strainer and sift it over the plants. I have also seen gardeners use empty spice jars to sprinkle DE on their plants. Be sure your container is clearly marked as Diatomaceous Earth. A few drops of dishwashing soap and cayenne pepper mixed with ¼ cup cooking oil and a quart of water makes a cheap spray for aphids though it is not very effective at repelling grasshoppers or beetles. Spray oil solutions in the evening. If I resort to chemicals I use Neem oil and spray very late in the evening after the sun has gone down. Similar to tanning oil, Neem oil will intensify the sun’s rays and can burn delicate foliage. Always spray it in the evening. Neem will need to be reapplied about every 5-7 days. Captain Jacks Bug Spray is another organic spray that can help protect your blooms from insects. Using beneficial insects is also an option however it is the priciest and shortest lasting. Beneficial insects last from 5-10 days after release in most garden plots.





#4. Weed. Pull those weeds. Use mulch, fabric or cover crops to help reduce the weed pressure. Weeds compete with your plants for water, nutrients and space. It’s the job every gardener despises but it’s the most important especially when summer grasses are growing at lightening speed. 






#5. Feed. Your flowers are working hard in the heat. For field grown flowers set up a schedule of follicular spraying with fish emulsion weekly. Add natural fertilizers like sheep or cow manure and compost tea bi-weekly or at least monthly to help support your garden through the intense heat of July and August. Try to avoid commercial non-organic fertilizers. These are high in nitrogen which does not contribute to bloom production. Phosphorus is what your flowers need during their blooming stage. But the main reason to avoid non-organic, commercial fertilizers is because it washes into streams, creeks and rivers where it drifts eventually into the ocean.






These are my top 5 summer tasks to help your flowers survive and thrive in the hot Texas summer. Turn off that overhead sprinkler and lay down some soaker hoses. Use a timer to water early in the mornings (5am). 


Share your flower photos on Instagram and tag #EastTexasFlowerFarm so I can see them! Let’s share our summer blooms and soak up the sunshine. Old man winter will arrive all too soon!