By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
July in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains is always unpredictable. Mid-summer weather is comfortably warm, but you may experience periods of extreme heat one day and chilly weather the next. Keeping things watered in Great Plains gardens is challenging, thanks to wind and low relative humidity.
In spite of the obstacles, July in the Northern Rockies is glorious, and there’s still plenty of time to enjoy the great outdoors and to take care of a few July gardening tasks before the weather turns cold in autumn. Here is your regional to-do list.
July Gardening Tasks for Northern Rockies and Great Plains Gardens
- Water shrubs and trees during extended dry periods. Newly planted shrubs and trees should be watered regularly until the roots are well established.
- Mulch beds to conserve moisture and keep weeds in check. Replenish mulch that has deteriorated or blown away.
- Continue to deadhead flowers to extend the blooming period. Deadheading will make your garden look neater and healthier.
- Continue to pull or hoe weeds, as they will rob other plants of water, light, and nutrients. Weeds also harbor insect pests and may promote disease. Make an effort to get rid of weeds before they go to seed. Pulling weeds is an arduous task, but watering first will make the job easier.
- Check for pests at least once every week, and take steps to keep them in check before the problem gets worse. A strong stream of water may be enough to knock off an infestation of aphids or spider mites. If that doesn’t work, insecticidal soap spray is usually effective. Avoid chemicals whenever possible, as the toxins kill bees and other beneficial insects. If pesticides are warranted, use them strictly according to label recommendations.
- Continue to fertilize regularly, particularly when vegetables are beginning to mature. Use water-soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks to keep annuals bright and happy.
- Harvest vegetables as they ripen, and don’t let them become overly mature, as they rapidly lose quality. In general, early morning is the best time to harvest.
- Take advantage of good deals at garden sales to replace annuals that didn’t make it, or to fill empty spots in beds. Planting in the evening or on cool, overcast days will help annuals get settled in.
- Raise mower height to at least 3 inches (7.6 cm.). Longer blades will protect the roots from the summer heat, and will help your lawn retain moisture. A longer lawn will look full, green, and healthy.
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Caring for your Annuals, Perennials and Bulbs
Dahlias, Gladiolas, Lilies, Cannas and other summer flowering bulbs can be planted this month.
Gladiolas bulbs may be planted at 2 week increments until the first of July to
provide you with cut flowers until the first frost.
Delphiniums, Phlox, Daylilies, Carnations, Aubrietia, Candytuft, Basket of Gold, Primroses, Coral Bells
and Saxifrage and other summer flowering perennials may all be set into the garden any time in May.
Break off wilting Tulip or Daffodil heads but continue to feed and care for the plants until the foliage has died back naturally. Old plantings of Daffodils may be divided and moved when they have finished blooming, but treat them as growing plants and use care to protect the foliage and roots.
Water them thoroughly after transplanting.
It is best not to dig or move other spring flowering bulbs until their foliage has ripened and died back.
Pansies, Snapdragons, Dianthus, Petunias, Geraniums, Fuchsias and Impatiens should be ready
to plant by mid month. Toward the end of the month, it should be warm enough to plant out
the more tender annuals like Salvia, Zinnias, Marigolds and Cardinal Flowers.
Lightly side dress perennials with an all-purpose 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 fertilizer. Avoid spilling the fertilizer on the plant, and use care not to damage the shallow roots when you cultivate it into the soil.
Setting the stakes next to your taller flowers early in the season, will help to support the plant
against winds as well as making it easier to 'train'.
Promptly remove spent flowers from any plant unless your intent is to harvest the seeds.
It consumes the plants energy to produce the seeds, and in many species of plants,
especially annual plants, removing the dead flowers will promote further blooms.
Here’s What You Should Be Doing in Your Garden in September
What to do in your Northern California garden in September
Before planting a new lawn or flower or vegetable beds, prepare the soil. Dig down 10 to 12 inches with a shovel or rotary tiller, then till in a 4- to 6-inch layer of compost or other organic matter. You can also add a complete fertilizer to lawn areas.
September marks the beginning of fall planting season—the ideal time to get many plants into the ground. Most nurseries are well stocked now with trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers.
Give cool-season annuals a strong start by planting after midmonth in cooler areas and at the end of the month in warm inland locations (Sunset climate zones 7-9, 14-17). Keep the soil moist while plants develop and, if weather is hot, temporarily shade new seedlings. Set out calendula, forget-me-nots, Iceland and Shirley poppies, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansies, primrose, stock, sweet peas, and violas. In coastal areas, try cineraria, nemesia, and schizanthus.
Shop soon for the best selection of healthy bulbs choose firm ones without soft or moldy spots. Plant anemones, crocus, daffodils, Dutch iris, freesias, homeria, hyacinths, ixia, leucojum, lycoris, oxalis, Peruvian scilla, ranunculus, sparaxis, tritonia, tulips, and watsonia. (Some, such as freesias, homeria, and watsonia, are not hardy in zones 1 and 2.) In mild climates, chill crocus, hyacinths, and tulips in the refrigerator for about six weeks before planting, keeping them away from fruits and veggies, which can thwart bulb development.
Cool-season greens like arugula, chard, kale, lettuce, and mustard are some of the easiest vegetables to grow from seed and have much better flavor than store-bought types. For a wide selection of varieties, try a seed source such as Ornamental Edibles.
Add fall color to your garden with asters, chrysanthemums, gaillardia, gloriosa daisy, Japanese anemone, lion’s tail, purple coneflower, and salvia.
Set out seedlings of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, and spinach. Plant seeds of beets, carrots, leeks, onions, peas, radishes, and turnips.
If perennials like agapanthus, candytuft, coreopsis, daylilies, and penstemon are overgrown or not flowering well, it’s time to dig and divide them. (Zones 1 and 2: Do this early in the month.) You can also divide these plants to increase their numbers in your garden. Use a spading fork or shovel to lift clumps, then cut the clumps into sections with a spade, shovel, sharp knife, or pruning shears. Replant sections in well-amended soil and keep moist while new roots develop.
Continue picking your summer tomatoes. Dig or pull up any plants that have finished producing or have succumbed to disease add only undiseased plants to your compost pile.