Replace spent annuals. If some of your annuals are truly flagging, it’s OK to pull them out. Either replace them with some bold-foliaged heat-loving tropicals, or just mulch the bed, go on vacation, and wait for pansy (Viola × wittrockiana, annual) season.
Plan for a late crop. As hot as it is, now is the time to direct-seed your cool-weather vegetable garden, or begin indoors for planting next month. It’s also a good time to scatter seeds of old-fashioned reseeders like poppies (Papaver rhoeas, annual), love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena, annual), foxglove (Digitalis and cvs., Zones 3–9), and black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida, Zones 4–9).
Watch your watering. If drought strikes, be sure you are deep watering, especially recently added plants. Water herbs or vegetables in the evening and harvest in the morning. Be sure to dry some herbs to savor this winter.
Pause, plan, and rest. Evaluate your garden during this most challenging time of year. Take some notes and a few wide shot pictures. Attend a gardening symposium or botanical garden classes, or catch up on podcasts while on vacation. Relax so you can be refreshed for the fall season.
Paula Gross is the former Assistant Director of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Botanical Gardens.
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