July is a tough on many plants, even our Southwest natives. There are few tasks to that you must do, and some things your should avoid doing this month since many plants are heat stressed.
Water is critical in the desert, but don’t let your plants become “drip sip” junkies. Instead of a little bit of water every day, water less often but for longer time, so the water sinks in two or even three feet into the ground — where roots should be. Roots need to encouraged to grow deep underground where it is cooler. Trees need to be encouraged to anchor themselves well, so apply their water well away from the trunk.
All plants need more water as temperatures rise. Water at dawn to conserve water, discourage fungus, and give plants the water they need as they “wake up” for the new day.
Tasks for Anytime in July
Mulch vegetables and perennial beds if you haven’t already. This helps to retard evaporation and keep the soil cooler by blocking sunlight. Vegetables can be mulched with straw, pine needles, or even palo verde needles. Perennial beds can be mulched like vegetables or using a cedar bark mulch.
Such organic mulches are also helpful for all landscape plants – just be careful to keep the mulch at least 2 inches away from the trunks of trees and shrubs. Mulch against trunks can lead to a host of problems.
Plant a monsoon garden with native vegetables and herbs like amaranth, short-maturity corn, devil’s claw, epazote, squash, and tepary beans.
It is not too late to plant non-native heat-lovers like black-eyed peas, squash, okra, pumpkin, and watermelon. There are a number of heat loving greens for summer growing too.
Fertilize lawns and palms with a nitrogen rich fertilizer.
Fruit-producing plants such as citrus, grapes, and pomegranate need a phosphorous-rich fertilizer, also called a bloom fertilizer. While you are at it, summer bulbs like canna (the feature photo) and rain lilies can use fertilizer now.
Fertilize your summer vegetable garden – unless you have a Three Sisters garden. Fertilizer would harm the growth of Sister bean.
Avoid pruning anything now unless you have to – say to remove storm damaged branches. If necessary, prune trees to eliminate hazards to humans or structures, but pruning is better done in spring or fall.
Avoid pruning palms because the palm borers are still active. You can prune them in August and September.
General July Care
Sharpen mower blades.
Protect container plants from excessive sun, or water often.
Deadhead flowers for extended bloom.
Harvest sun ripened fruit — apples, apricots, grapes, melons peaches — and enjoy.
If you wish, apply pre-emergent weed control before summer monsoon rains.
Hey – don’t forget to be careful out there!
Remember the 3H’s for safety – Hat! Hydrate! Hands!
More about overall care of your land and landscape in this book: Month by Month Gardening for Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico (Cool Springs Press). This link is to Amazon and if you buy the book there the Horticulture Therapy non-profit Tierra del Sol Institute will get a few pennies – at no extra cost to you.
© Article copyright Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. You must ask permission to republish an entire blog post or article. Okay to use a short excerpt – but you must give proper credit to Gardening With Soule. You must include a link to the original post on our site. No stealing photos.
Cover photo: Canna ‘South Pacific Orange’ All-America Selections Winner 2018. Photo courtesy of AAS. Read more about growing cannas in the Southwest in my post.
The El Sol newsletter can help with bite-sized bits of information.