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July 2014 Gardening Checklist for Arizona’s Low, Mid and High Elevations

Author: Cathy Cromell
Issue: July, 2014, Page 104
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Shallots—July is the month to transplant shallot “sets” (also called “cloves”) in the low desert. Transplant with the pointed ends up and place about 6 inches apart in loose, organically rich soil with good drainage. Some varieties have red skin and flesh; others have gray to yellow skin and white to cream flesh. Depending on growing conditions and variety, shallots take 80 to 110 days to mature. Similar to garlic, one shallot set develops multiple side bulbs, and the green tops will brown and tip over as shallots mature. Save sets from your harvest for replanting next season.

Sunflowers—Sow well-adapted varieties with long histories of use in arid climates, from Native Seeds/SEARCH in Tucson ( Striking plants reaching 8'-10' tall with large flower heads include ‘Apache Brown Striped’ and ‘Havasupai Striped’. ‘Hopi Black Dye’ is used to make basketry dye.

Palms and lawns—Bermuda grass and palm trees are landscape plants that thrive when planted in the midst of summer heat. Lawns can be installed from seed, sod or stolons from July through August.

Vegetables—Transplant eggplant, okra, peppers and pumpkins. Sow or transplant heat-loving vining crops, such as cucumber, melon and summer squash. Sow root crops (beets, carrots, green onions, radishes) and salad greens (arugula, kale, leaf lettuce, spinach).

Vegetables—Sow beans, beets, carrots, chard, Chinese cabbage, corn, salad greens and squash. Transplant broccoli and Brussels sprouts by the first week in July.

Native perennials for hummingbirds—Transplant bee balm, cardinal monkey flower (Mimulus cardinalis), columbine, Colorado four-o’clock (Mirabilis multiflora), hummingbird mint (Agastache sp.), hummingbird trumpet and penstemon.


Maintain annual container plantings—Soil temperatures heat up to triple digits, and roots will “cook” without adequate moisture. Containers in full sun often require daily watering. Water should soak through the soil and drain out the bottom of the pot with each application to prevent salt buildup, which can kill plants over time. The frequent watering needed in summer also leaches nutrients out of the soil. Therefore, a slow-release or organic fertilizer is recommended as they are less likely to burn plant roots in the summer heat compared to a faster-acting chemical fertilizer.

Dethatch Bermuda grass—Thatch is a layer of dead and dry stems and roots that builds up faster than it can decompose. Thatch that is up to one-half-inch thick acts as useful mulch, reducing soil temperatures and maintaining moisture. Thatch that is thicker than a half inch inhibits water and fertilizer penetration. To measure thatch depth, dig out small wedges of grass from several locations, about 2 inches deep, with a trowel or knife. A dethatching rake works well for small areas. For large turf areas, consider renting a dethatching machine.

Water citrus effectively—If trees are stressed for water in summer, fruit rinds become tough. Later in fall, rinds will crack and split because they are unable to expand as the fruit increases in size. Water mature trees every 10 to 14 days to a depth of 3 feet. Newly planted trees need water every 5 to 7 days to a depth of about 2 feet (or through the entire root ball).

Hang out with hummingbirds—The Sedona Hummingbird Festival offers activities to enjoy hummingbirds up close, including hummingbird garden tours, bird-banding demonstrations and sunrise breakfasts at hummingbird “hot spots.” Hummingbird experts will talk about conservation, photography, attracting these zippy flyers to the landscape and more. Phoenix Home & Garden Master of the Southwest David Salman is a featured presenter. The festival takes place Aug. 1-3. For details, log on to

Protect veggies from curly top virus—Curly top virus (CTV) survives from season to season on weeds, particularly those in the goosefoot and mustard families. Beet leafhoppers feed on weeds in spring and then transfer the virus to tomato plants, as well as to beans, beets, cucumbers, melons and squash. Symptoms include leaves that pucker and roll up while the main leaf petiole curves down. Leaves also become leathery with purple leaf veins. CTV is a challenge to control because of the varied interactions between the host plants (weeds), the virus, and the leafhoppers feeding on multiple plant types. If CTV is a problem in your garden, cover vegetables with floating row cover during the early and mid-growing season to inhibit beet leafhoppers from landing on plants. There is no treatment for CTV-infected plants. Once infected, plants should be removed and disposed of in the trash.

Maintain lawns—Apply a half pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of buffalograss or three-quarters of a pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of Bermuda grass. Water through the entire depth of the root zone immediately after application. Dethatch once every three years, as needed. (See Arizona’s Low Elevations.)

Cathy Cromell is a Master Gardener and co-author of Earth-Friendly Desert Gardening (Arizona Master Gardener Press).
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