Monsoon rains help quench the thirst of summer plants.
Set out heat-tolerant seasonal color blooms such as cosmos, gaillardia, gazania, globe amaranth, lisianthus, periwinkle and zinnia.
Put in warm-season vegetables such as Armenian cucumbers, black-eyes peas, corn, tepary beans, gourds, melon, okra and summer squash.
Harvest basil often and prune at least 1/3 of the growth to ensure an early fall harvest.
Use steel tongs to remove the juicy fruit from the prickly pear cacti.
Feed blooming plants often during the wet season with high-phosphorous fertilizer. Fertilize palms during this rainy season.
Frequent irrigation leaches nutrients, so feed with a slow-release fertilizer.
Prune mesquite and palo verde trees during summer. These trees heal more quickly during hot weather.
Water deeply early in the morning, when it’s not raining. Soak the entire root area of trees and shrubs weekly. Adjust your irrigation as needed through the monsoon season.
Summer annuals in pots may dry out quickly, so check irrigation systems often.
Protect container plantings from intense reflected heat and sun. Non-native cacti and succulents prefer some shade. Use 50-75 percent shade cloth over peppers and tomatoes.
Heat-loving tecoma shrubs such as red bird of paradise, fairy duster, Texas ranger, palms, portulaca and perennial sunflowers can be planted now.
Make use of the summer rains by harvesting the water. That may include building a collection system or simply using the runoff and carrying it to specific planting spaces.
Watch for insect infestation on plants. Heat- and drought-stressed plants are especially vulnerable to disease.
Watch for cochineal scale on prickly pear cacti and wash off any that appears.
Avoid standing water that might harbor mosquitoes.
TIP OF THE MONTH
Transplanting cacti can be a prickly business. To be successful, you should follow certain procedures to ensure a healthy move.
Mark one side of the plant so that you can orient it in the same direction as its original location. This will help prevent sun damage to a previously shaded side. Use a newspaper folded into a band to handle the plant or use tongs to manipulate your cactus. Do not use gloves to pick up the plant because the small spines will attach to
the glove.Be careful not to break the center of the root ball or too many of its roots. Prepare the new location and fill it with fresh soil (include some sand for aeration of the roots). Tamp the soil securely around the base of the plant. Water thoroughly to settle the soil. Cover with shade cloth for several weeks to encourage growth. Moving large cacti is best left to the professionals. HG