July is mid-summer, which can mean oppressive conditions for both plants and people. It's bad enough that the heat bakes you, but the mosquitoes and ticks take that as a cue to feast upon you.
The primary task of Southern gardeners is fighting drought. Northern gardeners should be mindful of dry conditions, too, but not to the same degree. Mid-summer is a good time for Northern and Southern gardeners alike to take stock of the garden and consider adjustments for next year's garden.
- Be vigilant about removing weeds or the weeds will soon overtake your garden beds. Weeds flourish in the July heat.
- Continue to remove suckers from indeterminate tomato plants and support plants either with stakes or tomato cages.
- Be on guard for Infestations of insects including but not limited to thrips, tomato fuiitworm, squash vine borer, tomato hornworm, spider mites, chinch bugs, scale, snails, and slugs.
- Monitor plants for diseases such as septoria leaf spot, powdery mildew, and rust.
- Inspect plants for Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica) on gourds, pumpkins, and squash.
- Fertilize heat-resistant flowers such as coleus, hibiscus, Melampodium, Pentas, plumbago, moss rose, and zinnias.
- (Mid-July) Pinch chrysanthemums one last time. Pinching too late in the summer reduces the blooms that you are counting on for fall displays.
- Harvest ripe vegetables regularly to improve yields. Zucchini plants, for example, will keep bearing throughout the summer if you harvest the young fruits on a regular basis.
- Pick blueberries before the birds eat them. To avoid having to be so vigilant, practice sound bird control. The most common way gardeners protect blueberries from birds is by covering the plants with bird netting.
- Inspect fruit trees for suckering water sprouts and prune to remove them. Water sprouts will steal energy from fruiting branches.
In the Mid-Atlantic region, July usually brings extended heat waves. Keep your plants adequately watered to avoid losing your investment of time, energy, and money.
- Inspect plants for damage from pests such as groundhogs and rabbits and, should you find any, take quick action: These animals can rob you of your harvest in no time. Consider growing rabbit-proof and groundhog-proof plants next year.
- Purchase annuals that garden centers sell at a discount. They might not look their best, but you can revitalize them during July and August and have them ready for autumn flower beds and container gardens.
- Test your automatic irrigation system to make sure it is functioning properly. If it's clogged anywhere, it could mean trouble for plants and your lawn.
There will be scorching days in July in the Midwest and even extended heat waves. Stay ahead on the watering to avoid losing any plants.
- To prevent plants from wasting energy on producing seed, deadhead your spring bulbs after they are done blooming. Also, lightly fertilize them to prepare for next season's blooms. Wait till the leaves have yellowed before trimming them off.
- (Late July) Sow peas for a fall crop.
- Inspect your automatic irrigation system: It needs to be functioning properly during the peak of the summer heat.
The Northeast receives its hottest temperatures in July. Save beach trips for the hottest days, but water your plants before you leave. This month also calls for stepping back and taking stock of what is in bloom, with an eye to adding to that floral color in future years.
- The abundance of shrubs and perennials in bloom in spring is just a memory now. You have plants such as garden phlox getting ready to flower now, and, soon the flowers of Rose of Sharon will furnish your yard with interest. Look for other options to inject color into your yard. Become a student of sequence of bloom.
- Check garden centers for annuals such as sweet alyssum that have been put on sale. They may not look like much now because they don't tolerate heat, but you can bring them back to health with some tender loving care and use them in fall plantings.
- Harvest vegetables and berries regularly.
- (Late July) Sow peas for a fall crop.
If ever you are glad to be gardening in the Pacific Northwest, it is during the month of July. The average high is 76 degrees Fahrenheit and the average low 57 degrees. These temperatures makes the Pacific Northwest one of the most moderate climates in the United States. You will enjoy the lowest humidity and the most sun during this month.
- Continue deadheading annual flowers to promote more blooming.
- Deadhead dahlias.
- Divide irises (Iris germanica).
July is sunny and dry in Northern California. The average high in San Francisco, for example, is 67 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average low is 54 degrees. This area receives virtually no rain, and another factor that contributes to drying out the soil in July is the wind. Southern California is predictably warmer, with an average high of 83 degrees Fahrenheit and an average low of 64 degrees.
In Northern California:
- Sow the seeds of heat-loving vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, okra, eggplant, and cucumbers.
- Fertilize cane berries such as raspberries.
- Spray grapevines to prevent mildew on foliage.
In Southern California:
- Plan your fall garden.
- Keep irrigation systems in tip-top shape. You do not want them to fail at this critical time.
- Plant citrus trees and tropical fruits.
In the high desert, July is hot. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, for example, expect an average high of 86 degrees Fahrenheit and an average low of 54 degrees. The area will receive about 10 days of rain. If Santa Fe is hot, then Phoenix, Arizona, is blistering, as summer is peaking. Arizona has an average high of 106 degrees Fahrenheit, an average low 83 degrees, and very little rain.
- The month of July is when you most need your automatic irrigation system to be in top working order. Inspect it to see that it is, and effect any needed repairs and/or adjustments.
- Spread mulch wherever possible to conserve moisture.
- To prevent sunburn on young perennials and succulents, furnish them with some shade. This is easiest to do with container-grown plants because you can move the containers to a more suitable location. For garden-grown plants, you might be able to erect shade cloth or use large umbrellas to furnish them with shade.
It is quite hot in July in the Southeast. Atlanta, for example, has an average high of 89 degrees Fahrenheit and an average low of 71 degrees; this city will receives about 12 rainy days in July.
- Watch for fungal disease, which is promoted by so much rain and humidity. When you find instances of fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, apply a fungicide to treat it. Note which parts of the garden are affected, and, next year, make it a point to provide more spacing between the plants (increased airflow cuts down on fungal disease).
- Ensure that your automatic irrigation system is working properly.
- Succession sow the seeds of sunflowers. By sowing seeds every two to three weeks, you will have a steady supply of sunflower seeds to eat.
- Start planning the fall vegetable garden.