July, we celebrate Independence Day! Plants, such as annuals, are growing profusely and are in full bloom. This is also the month when can sit back and enjoy the maturity of our plants and the fruits of our labor. But there is still much work to be done to preserve this beauty. Diseases proliferate and pests abound. Oh well, time to rollup our sleeves.
- Keep a watchful eye on the individual light needs of your plants. Group plants that have similar requirements together. Protect them from harsh, direct sunlight that can burn foliage.
- Going on vacation? Create a temporary greenhouse. Here's how: Soak houseplants thoroughly and allow to drain. Place them in a plastic bag and tightly tie the opening. Sticks in the soil will keep the bag away from the foliage. Plants such as African violets should have small holes in the bag for air circulation.
- Watch for problems with houseplants placed outside for evidence of diseases, wind damage and pests.
- Make sure you feed your plants now that they are in their growing season.
- Water tropical plants with room temperature water.
- Root cuttings can be made now from coleus, fuchsia, geranium, poinsettia, and other succulent plants.
Lawns and Landscaping
- Fertilize all warm weather grasses such as Bermuda, Zoysia and Centipede. Cool season lawns, such as fescue, should NOT be fertilized now. Wait until September to make that first application. Your turf will thank you. 1 inch of compost on top of your lawn is good for any variety of grass at any time.
- Watch for turf diseases such as brown patch, dollar spot and others. Call the Extension Office for advice.
- Apply water to the lawn and landscape when rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. The key here is to water deeply one time instead of irrigating a little bit everyday. The best time to water is before 10:00 am. This allows any water clinging to the foliage to dry, which in turn lessens the chance of fungal infection.
- When mowing your turf, never remove more than 1/3 of its blade growth at one time.
- A brown or grayish cast over a lawn can be caused by a dull or improperly adjusted mower blade that shreds grass rather than cuts it.
- Do not start new lawn from seed now. The young grass will not survive the summer heat.
- If you have a new lawn you can add another application of seed, six months later to increase the turf density.
- Continue to keep a diary of everything you have planted, especially since there is new growth.
- Continue to keep a watch on that new planting area you will use for next year. Layering composting materials over the area to add nutrients to the soil. Try not to allow weeds to grow.
- Note where shadows fall so that you can later move sun-loving plants.
Perennials, Annuals and Bulbs
- Time to plant another round of zinnias, nasturtiums, and other annuals for a great late summer and fall show.
- Continue to deadhead annuals that have already bloomed.
- Cut back impatiens and other leggy annuals to encourage side growth and more blooms, then fertilize them with 1/2 cup of 5-10-10 fertilizer per sq. yd. of planted area and mulch.
- Harvest leaves and cutback your herbs to encourage more growth.
- Dig up and divide over-crowded irises and daylilies.
- Pinch off spent blooms to keep flowers coming.
- Stop pinching off mums now (mid-July) so they can develop flower buds for the fall.
- Cut back and fertilize delphinium and phlox to encourage a second show of bloom.
- Roses: Remove spent blooms and damaged leaves. To prevent the spread of fungus, water plants carefully at their base and mulch. Black leaf spot may require the use of a fungicide at regular intervals.
- Give your plants a good watering once or twice a week instead of little and often.
- Continue to stay on top of weed control. Hand removal of weeds is friendlier to the environment than herbicide use. If you use sprays, be sure to choose a warm day, above 85 degrees F, without wind.
- Protect honeybees from potential harm from pesticides by applying those sprays in the evening after the bees have returned to their hives. The risk of "drift" occurring is also reduced at this time of day. Always wear protective clothing and read and follow label instructions when using pesticides.
- Tall flowers should be staked to prevent damage by wind. Use stakes which are large enough to support the plant but are not to conspicuous. Use soft twine or twist ties to secure.
- Many plants are easily propagated by layering. Verbenas, euonymus, and climbing roses are a few plants that will root if the stems are fastened down and covered with soil.
- Harvest blooms of lavender now to keep the plants tidy and encourage more blooms.
- Make sure you keep the soil moist but not soggy around ferns. They may become dormant if they get too dry.
- Salt deposits can build up in the soil of container plants. This will cause the foliage to burn. Flush out these deposits with water once during the summer.
Trees, Shrubs and Groundcovers
- Watch for the presence of scale, spider mites, lacebugs, and leafhoppers, which are common this month.
- Do not prune azaleas and rhododendrons after the second week of July or you will be removing the buds for next year's blooms.
- Water trees and shrubs thoroughly at the drip lines.
- Hand pick bagworms from evergreens or contact our office for additional recommendations of control.
- Remove suckers from roses, azaleas, camellia, rhododendron and other trees and shrubs as they appear. Cut back shoots of wisteria.
- Cut back mint, thyme and lemon balm to prevent a raggedy appearance.
- Harvest frequently and correctly. Vegetables left too long on the plant lose taste and quality.
- Fertilize fruits and veggies as needed with a good quality, slow-release food. A shallow top-dressing of compost is always good.
- Start seeds for fall vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and others this month.
- Keeping weeds under control is crucial in order to provide soil nutrients only to vegetables.
- A layer of diatomaceous earth will help control cut worms, slugs and other soft bodied insects.
- In late July slow down on watering cabbage to prevent the heads from splitting.
- Apply fish emulsion when pepper plants begin to bloom.
- You can begin to harvest some of your string beans now. They will have a fuller flavor when they are bigger but the smaller beans are quite nice too.
- Harvest broccoli before the buds begin to loosen and the yellow flowers begin to appear.
- Clip the flower stalks off garlic. Once the leaves have turned brown, garlic can be harvested.
- Spread a couple of inches of compost over asparagus beds. Remember to keep the soil moist.
- Harvest corn when the husk fits tightly around the ear.
- For a nice fragrance in your kitchen, tie several branches of sage together and hang it upside down in your kitchen.
- Continue to make successive plantings of crops like beans and sweet corn to provide a continuous harvest until fall. A small garden will produce a large quantity of vegetables if replanting is done throughout the summer.
- If weeds contain seed heads, then do not add them to your compost pile. Some compost piles do not reach temperatures high enough to kill the seeds.
- Practice integrated pest management (IPM). Try to provide pesticides least toxic to fish and wildlife.
- Cutting flowers is best done with sharp shears or a knife which will help avoid injury to the growing plant. A slanting cut will expose a larger absorbing surface to water and will prevent the base of the stem from resting on the bottom of the vase. It is best to carry a bucket of water to the garden for collecting flowers, rather than a cutting basket.
- Control mosquitoes by eliminating all sources of stagnant water.
- Continue attracting insect eating birds to the garden area by providing them with a fresh water source.