July Garden Tips

Monthly task lists help to grow and maintain your gardens, indoors and out.

Scan these tips from gardening expert and author, Melinda Myers, and follow those that apply to your particular landscape to help increase your success while making gardening easier, less stressful and fun.

 • Stagger deadheading, pinching and pruning within each flowerbed.  This will keep you in flowers all season long.

• Keep applying repellents to discourage troublesome deer and rabbits.  Make sure fencing is secure and still doing its job.

• Disbud dahlias for fewer, but larger flowers.  Remove at least two pairs of side buds that develop below the terminal (tip) bud.  Remove three pairs of buds if you want giant dahlias.

• Check limp and pale irises for borer.  Dig up rhizomes, cut off soft and borer-infested portions of the rhizome and replant.  Make a note to cut back and clean up iris foliage in the fall.

• Prune summer-bearing and everbearing raspberry plants after harvest.  Remove all the older canes that bore fruit that summer.  Cut these back to ground level.

• Fertilize leafy vegetables, sweet corn and root crops when they are half their mature size.  Apply fertilizer to tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers beans and vine crops when they have started producing fruit.

• Dig or pull beets and radishes when the root is full size.  Proper thinning and well-drained soil are important for proper root development.  No roots?  Use the greens to spice up your salads.

• Yellow, brown or spotted leaves on your houseplants are common symptoms of fungal disease.  Remove infected leaves as soon as they appear.  Adjust watering so that the plants are watered thoroughly, but not so often that the soil stays wet.  Pour off the excess water that collects in the plant saucer.

• Keep planting as long as you have space, time and plants.  Give July transplants extra attention during hot dry spells.  Mulch new plantings to conserve moisture and keep soil temperatures cool.

• Lightly prune arborvitae, yews and junipers once the new growth has expanded.  Clip stems back to a healthy bud or side shoot to contain growth.

• Established and mulched trees can go the longest time between waterings.  But even large established trees may need supplemental water during extended dry periods.  Water thoroughly until the top 12 inches of soil under the dripline is moist.

 • July can be the hottest part of the growing season.  Extreme heat can cause annuals to stop blooming, decline and even die.  Use heat and drought tolerant plants such as zinnia, moss rose, gazania, dusty miller, sunflower and cleome for the hot spots in your landscape.

• Sanitation is usually sufficient to keep flower diseases under control.  Pick off spotted leaves as soon as they appear.  Deadhead flowers during rainy periods to reduce the risk of botrytis blight.  Thin out plantings infected with powdery mildew.  This increases air circulation and light penetration to help slow the spread of disease.

• Stake and tie dahlias, lilies and gladiolus as needed.   Be careful not to spear the bulb while installing the stake.  Allow enough space between the plant and stake to accommodate the bulb.  Avoid this problem next year by staking tender bulbs at the time of planting.   Or surround tall plants with slightly shorter and stiffer plants that will serve as a living support.

• Harvest spinach when the outer leaves are 6-8 inches long.  Remove the whole plant as days get longer and hotter and the plants get larger.  Plan a late planting for fall harvest.  Continue picking leaf lettuce as the outer leaves reach 4-6 inches.  Replant for a fall harvest.

• Monitor all your houseplants indoors and out for pests.  Check under the leaves, along the stems and throughout the plants for signs of pests.

• You can still lay sod.  Use fresh sod and install it as soon as possible.  Stored sod can overheat and damage or kill the grass plants.  Once installed, the new lawn will need extra care during this often hot, dry month.  Make sure the soil surface stays moist until the sod roots into the soil below.  Once rooted, it will still need thorough, though less frequent watering.

• Mulch the soil in your gardens.  A thin layer of shredded bark, leaves, straw or other organic material will help keep the soil cool and moist during hot, dry weather.

• You can still plant balled-and-burlapped shrubs.  Select plants with healthy green leaves.  Avoid plants with brown leaf edges, indicating drought stress or pest problems.

• Bare crabapples are a common sight in summers following a cool, wet spring.  The cause is probably apple scab.  Rake and destroy leaves as they fall.  This will reduce the source of disease next season.  Consider replacing disease-susceptible crabapples with newer scab-resistant cultivars.

• Check the upper and lower leaf surfaces and stems of plants for aphids and mites. These pests suck out plant juices, causing leaves to yellow and brown. Control large populations with a strong blast of water from the garden hose.  Treat plants with insecticidal soap, horticulture oil or Neem if the populations grow and damage is severe.

• Monitor lilacs and other shrubs for powdery mildew.  Look for a white powdery substance on the leaves.  Infected plants will survive, but their appearance declines as the season progresses.  Reduce problems by increasing the light and air circulation.  Thin overgrown plants during the dormant season to increase light and air flow and to decrease disease.

• Ground ivy, quackgrass and bindweed are perennial weeds that can quickly take over your garden.  Hand pulling does not usually work on these deeply rooted plants.  Cultivation just breaks the plants in to smaller pieces that can start lots of new plants.  Carefully apply a total vegetation killer to control these pesky weeds.  These products kill the tops and roots of the weeds and any growing plant they touch; so protect nearby plants. Several applications may be needed to control these tough weeds once established.

• Stop pinching fall-blooming perennials at the beginning of the month.

• Improperly watered lawns suffer more problems than those that depend on rainfall as the sole source of water.  Make the most of your efforts by watering properly.

• Do not be discouraged if the bottoms of your first few tomatoes are black.  Blossom end rot commonly affects the first few fruit.  The blackened ends are caused by a calcium deficiency.  Do not add calcium; our soils have plenty.  Instead, avoid root damage caused by late staking and cultivation.  Mulch the soil to keep it consistently moist.  Affected tomatoes are safe to eat.  Cut off the black portion and enjoy the rest of the tomato.

• Pick herbs as needed.  Cut short pieces off the ends of the stem.  Make the cut just above a set of leaves.  It looks neater, and the plant recovers faster.  Wait until the plants start blooming for the most intense flavor.

• Consider using a watering wand or drip irrigation system to water the soil without wetting the foliage.  This puts the water where it is needed and helps reduce the risk of disease.

• Deadhead flowers for continual bloom and beauty.  Pinch back leggy annuals to encourage branching and more flowers.  Cut back heat-stressed lobelia and alyssum.  Cut plants halfway, continue to water and wait for the weather to cool.


 Written by gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s monthly gardening tips with you!