July Gardening Checklist for Central Texas

by Anthonyfamilyinfo@gmail.com

July is hot in Texas – maybe not as hot as August, but the thermometer soars. Central air conditioning may be one of the best inventions ever, at least if you are a Texan. 

Growing up our house had an attic fan that made for comfortable nights, but the indoors heated up during the day. In the afternoons, we played in the yard sprinkler to cool off. Mother made popsicles that we enjoyed on the porch and listened to the cicadas sing.  

Hot weather is stressful on plants, too. Here are some checklist items to do in gardens this month, including things to help plants make it through the hottest time of the year. 

What can be planted in July?

During July, plant in the very late afternoon or early evening if possible. Newly installed plants can then transition in the cooler hours overnight. Closely monitor new plantings. Be sure to cover the soil with mulch in flowerbeds and containers to cool soil and slowdown evaporation. Check soil moisture regularly. Depending on size, some containers may require daily watering.

Annuals planted in July should grow through the summer and carry your garden into fall. Plant amaranthus, angelonia, cleome, fanflower, gomphrena, marigolds, pentas, purslane, portulaca, vinca and zinnia. In shade plant begonia, caladiums, coleus, impatiens and torenia. Tropicals like bougainvillea, mandevilla and hibiscus tolerate very hot temperatures. 

What perennials are the most heat tolerant for central Texas?

Some of the most heat tolerant perennials for summer are Esperanza, firebush, guara, Gregg’s mistflower, hardy hibiscus, lantana, rock rose, Mexican bush sage, salvia, society garlic and yucca. Also, ornamental grasses planted in July will grow quickly and be standouts in your fall landscape. Carefully monitor soil moisture of all new plantings.

Are there any flower seeds to plant outdoors in July?

Sow seeds of sunflower and zinnias. These thrive in heat. Herbs that grow well in Texas’ summers are basil, lemon balm, Mexican mint marigold, oregano and rosemary.  

Late summer and fall blooming bulbs can be ordered and planted this month. Some of the best are bulbs that perennialize in Texas – plant them once, they multiply and return to bloom annually. The most reliable are Lycoris – spider lily, Rhodophilia – oxblood lily and Sternbergia – fall crocus.

New landscapes are planted in Texas in summer. It is a good time to plant turf which must be irrigated consistently to get established. Planting shrubs and trees in July is not optimal, so they must be mulched with 2 to 3 inches of shredded hardwood and watered regularly. If possible, delay planting woody ornamentals until fall in Texas. 

What to do in the Vegetable Garden in July

You may not think of July as vegetable gardening season, but there are some vegetables to get started for what is known as the late summer to fall garden. Optimal planting in July for a second crop of cucumbers, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes begins in late July for central Texas. Also, for planting melons, okra, field peas and winter squash, the window closes in early July. 

To get off to a good start, seedlings and small transplants will benefit from a shade cloth. Also, use mulches to lower soil temperature and slow evaporation.

 

Planting periods for vegetables by seed and *transplant in July for zone 8b central Texas

Week 1 – corn, cucumbers, *eggplant, melon-cantaloupe/honeydew/watermelon, okra, peas-southern, *peppers, sweet potato, pumpkin, squash summer/winter, summer greens – Malabar/amaranth 

Week 2 – corn, cucumber, *eggplant, melon – cantaloupe/honeydew/watermelon; okra, peas- southern; *peppers, pumpkin, squash – summer/winter; summer greens – Malabar/amaranth  

Week 3 –  corn, cucumber, *eggplant, okra, peas – southern,*peppers, squash –summer, summer greens – Malabar/amaranth, tomatoes

Week 4 – corn, cucumber, *eggplant, okra, peas – southern, *peppers, pumpkin, squash summer, summer greens – Malabar/amaranth, tomatoes

Preparations for a fall garden starts in the summer. Begin to prepare beds and containers for planting of seeds and transplants in September and October. The fall to winter garden in warm climates is less demanding. There are fewer pests, watering is less intense and it is more comfortable outdoors. Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage can be started indoors in July to grow transplants for fall.   

Mowing and pruning in July

Hardy chrysanthemums and Mexican bush sage should be tip pruned early in July to keep them compact for fall blooming. Deadhead basil, caladiums, coleus, salvia and zinnias. Remove dead tree limbs or those damaged by summer storms. If oak wilt occurs in your area, paint fresh cuts. 

Mow lawns regularly, removing no more than one third of the leaf blade at each mowing. Lawns grow fast in July. To meet this one third amount, lawns may need mowing more often than once a week. An option is to raise the mower deck a small amount.  

 

 

Watering lawns and landscapes is critical in July in central Texas

How often, when and how much to water lawns? The answer is “it depends” on the type sprinkler, turf species and other factors. But the goal is to get soil moist down to 3 to 4 inches. A cycle and soak rotation helps accomplish this but requires monitoring. Most turf experts agree on twice a week watering or every 3 to 4 days in warm climates.   

Monitor the effectiveness of watering systems and adjust the schedule as needed. Avoid overwatering your lawn. Watering 3 to 4 times a week results in wasteful runoff, grows shallow rooted turf, may promote disease and can literally drown some plants. But do watch for “hot spots” in turf. These are usually small areas that yellow and turn brown quickly. Observe sprinkler heads to ensure they are operating and covering properly.

When is the best time to water landscapes? The best time of day to water lawns, shrubs and flower beds is early in the morning. If possible, set automatic irrigation systems to run between 4am to 9am. Use timers made for hose end sprinkler applications. For hose end watering the most efficient sprinkler is the impulse type, rather than oscillating.

Water when the soil is dry in the plant root zone. Check soil moisture at 3 to 4 inches deep with your finger or use a moisture meter. A moisture meter is an inexpensive, but useful device to check soil moisture levels deep in the soil.

Vegetables should be watered very early in the morning.

Mulch is one of the least expensive but most beneficial things to retain soil moisture. It protects plants during summer heat to slow down evaporation. Cover soil with 2 to 3 inches of mulch. This insulates the soil, lowering the temperature to keep plant roots cooler and helps reduce weeds.

 

What to fertilize in July

What to do for the lawn in July? In the growing season, turfgrass may be fertilized about every 8 weeks. Lawns are often over or under fertilized. Testing soil takes the guesswork out of fertilization. Test results reveal existing levels of nutrients, so that you can precisely apply the fertilizer turf needs.

Is it okay to fertilize flowers in hot weather? High temperatures may reduce flowering of some annuals. Be careful not to over fertilize containers, patio pots and hanging baskets because that can actually burn plants. A half strength solution of water-soluble fertilizer promotes plant vigor.

Disease and insect pests in July

Spider mites and aphids are the most common pests of hot weather. A strong spray of water will wash off many of them. An option is to spray with insecticidal soap. 

In lawns of St. Augustine grass, gray leaf spot can cause odd shaped areas of yellow turf and may require a fungicide application. Chinch bugs can occur during hot, dry weather. If turf turns brown in areas of full sun and it does not respond to watering, look for chinch bugs. At the edge of the brown area, inspect closely at the base of the leaf blades for small, black and white insects. If chinch bugs are present, apply labeled insecticide quickly. Chinch bugs can do serious damage to turf in summer. 

You may also like