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Florida gardening in August

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Florida gardening in August
Florida gardening in August. Clockwise from top: Treefrog on milkweed, dragonfruit plant, beautyberry bush, liriope in bloom
Florida gardening in August. Clockwise from top: Treefrog on milkweed, dragonfruit plant, beautyberry bush, liriope in bloom

Just the idea of gardening in August in Florida is a kind of contradiction to the natural order of plant life. In August, the plants rise up and dominate whatever landscape they are in. In my experience, it is best to let the plants win, at least for now. For me, anyway, gardening is pointless in southern Florida at this time of year. I have friends who grow sweet potatoes in the summer. One does a fish emulsion in preparation for growing through the fall and winter. But me, I struggle against the heat, humidity, insects and takeover by plant life.

Day after day of rain that keeps me mostly indoors has led to unchecked weeds:

weeds
weeds

Pull an invasive vine off your fence one day, and it’s back the same way the following week.

The weather also flooded my potted bougainvillea and nearly killed it:

Heavy, chronic rainfall filled my patio bougainvillea pot and nearly killed my plant
Heavy, chronic rainfall filled my patio bougainvillea pot and nearly killed my plant

Not pretty.

So yes, when it comes to taking care of my yard, I have no love for August.

Going by the Florida Gardening Calendar by the UF/IFAS Extension, supposedly I can plant annuals this month. Even tomatoes. But, friends, the temperature is constantly in the 90s with humidity in the 70-90% range. The official feels-like temperature has been over 100 or close to it. If I can’t breathe outside, what is it doing to tender new plants? (Not weeds/native wildflowers/grasses — those are doing just fine in these jungle-like conditions.)

Besides, I am really not that desperate for a homegrown tomato to endure the heat, humidity and bugs that gardening would require. (I don’t have a sunny window or room for grow lights to start seeds indoors.)

Before I sound completely cranky about the weather, I will say I know we need the rain now for the drier winter months, and I am fine with it. Some trees throughout the neighborhood are blooming right now, and they are beautiful. Summer brings lots of zooming, hovering dragonflies to my yard, and they eat the mosquitoes for us. There are also the easygoing days with the kids before school starts. So August is not all bad.

Just don’t ask me to have a spectacular yard or cultivate beautiful food this month.

What is happening in your yard this month?

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