For The Answer
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
Week of July 3, 2006
“July Gardening Calendar”
July is usual the hottest month of the year. There is still plenty we can do in the landscape, but it is best to be careful. When possible, do your gardening and landscape work in the morning when it is relatively cool. Wear a hat and loose fitting clothes. Drink water and other liquids before, during, and after you work in the heat.
course, water is a key part of gardening in July. If you have zoysia grass, buffalo, or Bermuda
grass, you have some flexibility that individuals with
Well established trees and shrubs do not need supplemental irrigation. They evolved in our climate and have survived cycles of drought and wet times for eons. To encourage blooming for plants like crape myrtle, old-fashioned roses, lantana, firebush, and dwarf ruellia – water them deeply once per month. Esperanza, poinciana, and red yucca will bloom fine without irrigation.
is a good chance that the entire Edwards Aquifer area will go into drought
restrictions during the first week of July.
In Stage One of the restrictions, you can hand-water or use drip irrigation anytime as long as the water does not run off of your landscape onto the road.
The best annual flowers for droughty weather are vincas, moss roses, and purslane. In the vegetable garden, okra, hot peppers, and southern peas can tolerate the heat. Pull your old tomato plants. They only serve as a reservoir for diseases and pests when temperatures become this hot. Replant tomatoes at the end of July if it cools down below the 90’s. Otherwise, wait until the first cooling temperatures in August.
Songbirds benefit greatly by birdbaths in drought conditions. Place the bath in an open area about six feet from cover. The birds can escape to cover if they are threatened by a hawk, but at six feet the cover is far enough away that cats can’t reach the bathing or drinking birds in one leap. In July, the young hummingbirds visit your blooming plants and sugar water feeders. The best hummingbird plants for your patio are pentas for sun or shade, and firebush for full sun. Zinnias, spreading lantanas, salvias, hibiscus, and bat-faced cuphea also are popular. The larger the container the more room for roots and the fewer times you must water. In really hot weather some container plants may have to be watered daily.
There is always the question of whether one should place new plants in the landscape during a drought. Good container grown plants can be placed in the landscape even when it is hot, but the chance that it will not survive is greater in droughty weather. Postpone planting to the autumn if you can.