August a good time to be thinking about fertilizing yards, roses
By VALLI HARDGRAVE | Hopkins County Master Gardener

Aug. 7, 2005 -- Hello, gardeners! Usually, April, June and August yield the best results, SO LET'S TALK FERTILIZERS!

August should be the final fertilization for lawns. A complete fertilizer contains the three most important elements for maximum plant growth. This makeup is nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. All fertilizers are labeled with three numbers that indicates how much of these elements, based on percentage of weight, is present. For example, if we have a 100-pound bag of fertilizer that is labeled 10-10-10, there are 10 pounds of nitrogen, 10 pounds of phosphorus and 10 pounds of potassium, and the remaining 70 pounds consists of filler or carrier that helps to evenly spread the fertilizer and aids in avoiding burning the plants with too much fertilizer.

When shopping for fertilizer, you will find that some are packaged as special purpose food formulated for certain uses or for certain types of plants according to their nutrient requirements, such as rose, azalea and camellia foods, and many others. Three types of fertilizers are available:

(1) Conventional: This fertilizer is fast-acting and low in cost but has greater burn potential and the nitrogen leaches readily.

(2) Slow Release: This fertilizer requires fewer applications and has low burn potential, but unit cost is high and the fertilizer release rate is governed by factors that the plant might not need.

(3) Manures: This fertilizer has low burn potential, has relatively slow release and conditions the soil, but salt may be a problem, weed seeds may be present, and it is bulky and may have an odor.

August is also the time to late-summer fertilize your roses. Extra nutriments provided now will encourage vigorous growth and flowering over the next three months. Use a specialized 3:1:2 or 4:1:2 premium quality, long-lasting rose food. This is also the time to prune your roses to get them into shape for the fall blooming season. Fertilize immediately after you prune. DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT PLANTING OR TRANSPLANTING roses this month! Our Texas heat is not over yet, though welcome cooler weather is on the horizon.

August is also the month to think about your horticulture entries for our upcoming Hopkins County Fall Festival in September. Don't be shy to strut your horticultural stuff! A fee of $2 covers as many entries as an individual wants to enter. The horticulture competition includes: Agriculture — vegetables, fruits, nuts, honey, gourds. Cut Flower Arrangements — mutiple flower, potted plants, foliage, hanging baskets, succulents, dried arrangements, potpourri and miscellaneous. For a complete listing of entries, you can contact the Hopkins County Civic Center or our County Extension Office.

THANKS for letting me share with you this month's horticulture agenda. I hope to see you next month with your entries for our Hopkins County Fall Festival.

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