August Garden Calendar

Monsoon rains help quench the thirst of summer plants.

Santa Rita


Plant native and low-water-use species now, when summer rains make digging easier.

Plant palms, whose root systems thrive when planted in the heat.

Plant bougainvillea, yellow bells, oleanders, acacias, cassias, mesquites and palo verdes.


Prune back any surviving tomato plants.

Deadhead bedding flowers.

Vincas that wilt but do not recover with a deep watering should be discarded.


Pick okra and squash regularly to keep plants producing until frost.

Dinner Plate


Fertilize citrus toward the end of the month.

Avoid fertilizing frost-tender shrubs now, as this will encourage new growth that may freeze later.

Look for plants with chlorosis — yellow leaves and green veins. Treat plants with an application of chelated iron.

Give roses a late-summer application of specially formulated rose food.


Water citrus deeply once a week or more. Too much water can result in chlorosis.

Water summer-blooming flowers and shrubs.

Water large, established cacti and succulents every 5 weeks if rains have been scarce.

Small specimens benefit from watering every 3-4 weeks.

Ocotillo canes cover themselves with green leaves during the monsoon season. Adding extra watering in between storms can stimulate new growth.

Cow’s Tongue


Red bird of paradise produces showy clusters of brilliant red and orange blossoms until frost. The fern-like foliage adds a tropical look to desert gardens.


Set out transplants of basil, chives, lemon verbena and nasturtiums.


Engelmann prickly pear cactus (Opuntia engelmannii) easily are identified by their broad, flat green pads and vivid yellow or red-orange blooms. Both drought- and coldtolerant, they can reach five feet tall, and grow to a width of 10-15 feet.

There are more than 18 species of prickly pear in several shapes and sizes. All are known for their sculptural form — series of flat pads connected by joints. They provide shelter and a food source for native birds, insects and mammals.

When they reach an unwieldy size, the pads can be transplanted. Use caution and wear thick gloves, as the pads are covered with tiny, barbed hairs. Use a sharp knife to remove a pad from the end of a jointed segment. Let the cut end dry for a few days. Bury the lower 1/3 of the pad in an upright position. Prop up with soil or rocks. Water until roots appear, then back off on the watering — you don’t want root rot!

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