July Gardening By the Month

“In his garden every man may be his own artist without apology or explanation.
Here is one spot where each may experience the romance of possibility.”-
Louise Beebe Wilder


(Hope your gardening this month is as spectacular as a fireworks display on the 4th of July!)


esperanza yellow sized1st WEEK:

Enjoy esperanza, firebush, caelsalpinia, salvia, crape myrtle and zinnias blooming all over San Antonio! – EO

Container plants sitting in full sun may be taking a beating in the 100-degree heat. If so, move them to a location where they get a few hours (shade from 3:00 on) less sun. Check the root balls of container plants to make sure they are absorbing water. If the root ball has dried out too much, water will just run down the side. If this happens, soak the plant and container for no more than 10 to 15 minutes to correct the problem. Monthly feeding of Miracid 30-10-10 fertilizer at 1 Tbsp per gallon encourages growth.

Keep looking out for CHINCH BUGS in St. Augustine grass. You can recognize them by the moth-eaten spots in the hottest part of the yard. If they sweep up when you brush your hand across the grass, treat with Imidacloprid, Bayer Grub Killer Plus or other granular insecticide labeled for use.

If tomatoes are infested with SPIDER MITES, harvest the remaining fruit, then pull up and discard the plants.

As temperatures rise, expect some leaves to fall from tree crowns. It is a natural survival tactic.

Water lawns only when grass blades first show signs of wilting in the morning. Apply 1/2″ to 5/8″ on each of two consecutive mornings to encourage deeper roots. To save water if you have Bermuda, zoysia, or buffalo grass let some of it go dormant until fall. – CF

Select day lily varieties this month as the plants reach their peak bloom.

Seeds from many spring-blooming flowers are mature and can be harvested, stored and then planted later this fall in your landscape. – TAE

As spring-planted vegetable plants play out, add them to your compost pile as long as they are not diseased or pest-infested. – LR

Wild (native/adaptive and “volunteer” plants used in wildscape) gardens should be at peek!


red yucca png2nd WEEK:

Conserve water by buying plants adapted to the area. – LR

Apply Copperas/iron sulfate dissolved in water, during early morning hours, to St. Augustine grass to replenish iron and cure chlorosis; or spray a chelated micronutrient iron product mixed with a surfactant on lawns turning yellow from iron deficiency (- LR).

If dead areas on the lawn pull up like a toupee, or looks moth-eaten, GRUBS probably are the problem. Verify by digging up the soil underneath the dead patches, if there are five or more larva, treat with Bayer Advanced Grub Killer Plus, or use a beneficial nematode treatment or other long-term grub control.

Chewing SQUIRRELS, in search of food and moisture, are girdling branches in shade trees, which can cause the whole branch to die. Spray pruning paint on the wounds, where practical, to discourage further chewing.

Lawn clippings left on the lawn decompose to provide nutrients and organic material. Do not waste landfill space by bagging clippings.

Remove spent crape-myrtle flower heads to encourage more blooms, even through September.

As vegetable beds become vacant, till and cover with a clear plastic cover to control weeds and nematodes until fall planting.

Maintain mulch over the root system of young trees to increase growth rate by as much as 50%. (Mulches aid by controlling the moisture content and temperature of the soil, as well as providing necessary organics.) – EO

Raise your mower height in turf grass to help provide more shade for the roots, but mow your sunny areas of grass more often than your shady areas, to keep grass low (at recommended height to promote healthy turf) and dense.

Look for LACE BUG damage on pyracantha, sycamore and Boston ivy. Control with Permethrin.

Plant crape myrtles while in bloom to ensure selection of color (also be sure of the variety’s mature height).

Fertilize bougainvillea and plumeria to keep them blooming through the summer.


turks-cap3rd WEEK:

Turk’s cap and shrimp plant are good blooming plants that attract hummingbirds and grow in light shade. – CF

Don’t waste water. Water most plants deeply on the day before they would have wilted.

Plant Asters, Firebush, perennial garden Mums, Salvias, Marigolds (spider mites are less problematic in the fall), etc. for fall bloom in sunny sites.

Begin preparing vegetable garden for fall planting; tomatoes look for Surefire, Celebrity, and Tycoon; eggplant and peppers should also be planted.

Pinch back garden mums for the last time.

July is a good month to prune Live oaks and Red Oaks to avoid oak wilt threat. Paint pruning wounds immediately to be safe.

Die back in dwarf pittosporum probably is caused by freeze injuries from earlier winters (even a couple of years ago). Check for cracked and peeling bark at the base of the dying branch or branches. Prune out dead material.

Remove suckers from the base of fruit trees. They grow from the root system (stock) and are a different variety than the top, called the scion. Suckers will quickly dominate the scion if left uncut.

Skim the top of lantana and verbena with a hedge trimmer, or long shears, every six weeks to keep the plants blooming consistently.

If you need more summer color in your landscape, use periwinkle, moss rose, firebush, lantana and esperanza in sunny spots. Use firespike, coleus, caladiums or impatiens in the shade.

Bear with trees and shrubs with yellowing leaves. Micro nutrients are not absorbed as they should be in super hot weather. The trees and shrubs are reacting to hot, dry weather and will recover in milder conditions. Spray iron sulfate on plants with chlorotic leaves (yellow leaves with green veins) but only in the morning or late at night so you will not burn your plants.

Trim leggy petunias and impatiens to promote new growth and new flowers.

Apply Image, or Hi-Yield Nutsedge Control according to label instructions to control nutsedge popping up in established lawns. – EO

Continue to prune fall-blooming perennials through August.

There is still time to set out another planting of annuals such as marigolds, zinnias and periwinkles. They will require extra attention for the first few weeks because of the heat, but the plants should reward you with color from late September until November.

Establish a new compost pile to accommodate the upcoming fall leaf accumulation. – TAE


squash-458024_6404th WEEK:

If you want pumpkins for Halloween, now’s the time to plant. Plant 4 or 5 seeds together about 1 1/2 inches deep in well-drained soil. Space plants about 6 feet apart in order to have plenty of room. – LR

If we want to implement organics such as fish meal or alfalfa into the soil, the last of July or first part of August is the time to give a tremendous boost to the fall bloom. The alfalfa can be spread on the mulch like fertilizer but fish meal needs different treatment. Holes punched in the ground around the drip-line of the bush provide a means of getting the meal out of reach of the neighbors dog (and away from the neighbor’s nose). Happy Frog and Espoma products are filled with active soil microbes that can bring your soil back to life by making the root systems of your plants more efficient at picking up and retaining water, fertilizer and other enzyme nutrients.

If you can find sturdy American hybrid marigold transplants that are not blooming yet, plant now for a spectacular fall display.

It is time to plant your fall vegetable garden (or start in shelter if the temperature is hovering around 100 deg.). Put in a simple drip irrigation system for efficient watering. Kits are easy to use. A soaker hose is a simple method to install drip irrigation in vegetable gardens and flower beds. But don’t turn the faucet on full blast. A quarter turn of the spigot is all you need.

GALLS may be prevalent on oak leaves. The round balls, about the size of BB’s, protect eggs of small wasps. They do not harm the trees, and are beneficial; no treatment is necessary.

Brown spots in drought-resistant grasses, such as buffalo, Bermuda and zoysia may be dormant areas over rocks or shallow spots in the soil. If the areas don’t respond to extra water, check for CHINCH BUGS or GRUBS. You may need an application of Imidacloprid, or another granular product for soil dwelling insects.

A black sooty mold on leaves is evidence of sucking bugs excreting honeydew. Kill those suckers with the least toxic, yet effective insecticide, such as Captain Jack’s Spinosad, Pyrethrin mixed with insecticidal soap, or Permethrin.

Sandburs can be collected by dragging a carpet remnant over the area where they are growing.

Firebush, planted in full sun on a patio, will attract hummingbirds. Use fire spike for shaded areas.

Water lawns wisely using the evapotranspiration (the rate which water is taken up through the plant and “exhausted” from the leaves) recommended for your type of lawn grass as a guide. Call SAWS about their S.I.P. kits and program.

Water apple and pear trees weekly.

Spray a chelated micro nutrient iron product mixed with a surfactant on lawns that are yellowing because of iron deficiency (water well before treatment).

Check the moisture level of your compost pile. – EO

BERMUDA MITES: You can’t see these pests (not true insects) at all. They’re much smaller than their cousins (red spider mites) that bother so many of our landscape and garden plants. If you have patches of Bermuda that seem lethargic and dried, and if the runners are especially shortened and chubby looking, you have Bermuda mites. Insecticidal sprays like Pyrethrin mixed with insecticidal soap, Spinosad, or Permethrin, applied with some pressure down into the grass should help control them. – NS

Prune dead or diseased wood from trees and shrubs. Hold off on major pruning until midwinter to avoid stimulating tender new growth.

Select and order spring-flowering bulbs so they will arrive in time for planting. Check with the extension service for proper chilling and planting times. – TEA

Plant tomatoes now for your fall garden. If planted early enough for the fall garden (last week of July-1st two weeks of August) even indeterminate varieties may be used with great success. Use heat-setting varieties such as Big Beef, Florida 91, Heat Wave II, BHN 444, BHN 602, Tycoon, Phoenix, Solar Fire, Super Fantastic, Sweet 100.

Now is the time to plant cabbage, eggplant, peppers and squash.


Many thanks to my contributors:
CF – Calvin Finch, Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, Texas Agricultural Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News)
EO – Edna Ortiz, Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, Texas Agricultural Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News)
TAE – Texas Agricultural Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express News)
NS – Neil Sperry, Texas horticulturalist, Publisher “Neil Sperry’s GARDENS” and contributor to S.A. Express-News, visit his web site @ www.neilsperry.com
HG – John Howard Garrett, aka the “Dirt Doctor”, (visit his web site @ www.dirtdoctor.com)
AJW – A.J. “Pop” Warner, from his book “A Year In The Rose Garden”
LR – Lyn Rawe, Bexar Co. extension agent for horticulture, (visit their website @ bexar-tx.tamu.edu), Texas Cooperative Extension Service (courtesy S.A. Express-News)