Just as there is a time and a purpose for humans to eat and drink, the same is true for plants.

Just as there are many different theories and opinions as to what, when, why and how much food people need, this holds true for plants as well.

Common sense, with a little basic knowledge, can go a long way when it comes to feeding plants.

This particular time of year can be crucial to the success or failure of your plants and lawns, with regard to feeding/fertilizing. So repeat after me, “Think before you feed!”

Ask yourself the “what, when, why and how much” and then know the answers before you feed.

Plant foods/fertilizers are not all the same, just as human food is not.

Plants and human bodies respond to what the foods contain and are designed to support.

This summer, it’s pretty hot out, and our perennials are in full swing.

Most have their year’s growth nearly completed and if they are blooming plants, they are displaying their beauty.

But some may already have fading and fewer blooms.

According to Neil Sperry’s Lone Star Gardening, July is the month to feed lawns and landscaping with a high nitrogen fertilizer because the consistent watering required in this Texas heat may have depleted the nutrients we applied in the springtime. Another source, www.garden.org, stated, “fertilizing with a high nitrogen fertilizer after mid-summer can stimulate plants to continue growing into fall.”

So, it seems to be a feeding controversy on the “what, when, why, and how much.”

You may see the reasoning behind Sperry’s logic and so do I. But let’s explore the website’s logic.

According to the National Garden Association, “Though August and September can bring some of the summer’s warmest weather, by this time most perennial plants have begun preparations for their annual rest.”

WHAT? Annual rest? Are we already contemplating winter … at the end of July?

WE may not be, but apparently plants are. It’s not necessarily cooler temperatures that force plants to prepare for winter, but length of daytime sun.

Since fall begins Sept. 22 this year, plants will prepare to go dormant as the days begin to shorten.

If we apply a heavy feeding as August is just around the corner, it could promote a growth spurt and the new growth may not be in a position to begin the “hardening” process needed to minimize damage from possible winter freezes.

Next week, I will continue this discussion, so until then, the most important thing to do at this point is to deep water plant roots and ensure lawns get an inch of water a week.

Darla Horner Menking is a Texas Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at darla.menking@gmail.com

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