September Gardening Calendar

Sunny days still bring the heat, but cooler nights hint of things to come. It’s time to dig out your gardening tools!


Plant citrus while the weather is still warm. Choose varieties that are better adapted to desert conditions.

Plant strawberry varieties that perform in low-desert conditions. Choose a location that has protection from afternoon sun.

Plant fall herbs such as chives, thyme, catmint, cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel and parsley.

Transplant herbs such as lemongrass, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme.


Dig compost into vegetable beds. Rearrange container plants to sunnier locations as the sun’s arc slips southward.

Chill tulip, crocus, daffodil and hyacinth bulbs in the refrigerator for eight weeks prior to planting.


Cut back tomatoes and peppers that made it through the summer to promote a new bloom before frost.

Trim roses and remove dead twigs to promote a second bloom in the fall.

Prune shrubs such as oleander, privet, xylosma, Texas ranger and Arizona rosewood that have become overgrown.





Cut back on water for deciduous fruit trees, grape vines and citrus to slow growth and get ready for cooler temperatures.

Water citrus deeply out to the plant’s canopy every two weeks.



Hose off dusty plants to control spider mites.

Divide iris this month. Dig up large clumps and cut rhizomes into small pieces.

Pull and compost the last of the summer annuals.

Refresh garden beds by incorporating four to six inches of organic matter. FERTILIZE

Fertilize with nitrogen in early September to provide nutrients to summer-stressed plants. Water the day before and after applications to prevent burn.

Feed roses with a slow-release fertilizer that will last through fall. Fertilize citrus with the third and final application of nitrogen for the year.

Add organic nitrogen sources to the soil, including alfalfa meal, blood meal, coffee grounds, cottonseed meal, fish emulsion and guano.


Chile peppers are available in many colors, shapes, sizes and degrees of heat. The key factor affecting how fruit set is night temperature, which ideally should be between 65 and 80 degree. Bell pepper varieties do not set fruit when temperatures are over 90 degrees, but may begin to do so once the weather is cooler. If bell-type peppers are desired, consider the smaller pod “Carmen Sweet Pepper.”

Chiles need six hours or more of sunlight. Provide full sun in the morning and 50 percent afternoon shade. In the fall, fewer blossoms will appear as the weather turns cooler.

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!

Live help

July Gardening Calendar

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 deepl

y 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.


Summer vegetables can become stressed from the heat this month, with wilted leaves in the morning an obvious signal. Late-afternoon wilting also may be heat stress, but as evening approaches the plants may perk up again.

To keep soil moist, water slowly and deeply. Add fertilizer to moist soil only, then add more water to move it to the roots.

Eggplant, corn, squash, beans, melons, black-eyed peas, cucumbers, peppers and okra are some of the best warm-season crops. As melons ripen, place a board beneath them to prevent insect damage.

Corn, squash and beans are known as “the three sisters,” and usually are planted together. The corn plants provide shade, the beans add nitrogen to the soil, and the squash foliage shades the ground, preventing evaporation of the monsoon rains.

June Garden Calendar


As the weather warms, we Tucsonans get busy in our gardens.

Hot and dry … a challenge for our gardens.

Sweet Basil
Thai Basil
Dark Purple Opal Basil
Camphor Basil
Holy Basil


Sow seeds of cantaloupe, corn, green beans, summer squash, native melons, Armenian cucumber and okra.

Plant warm-season color annuals such as cosmos, hollyhock, marigold, salvia, sunflower, zinnia, gaillardia, gomphrena, coreopsis, vinca and gazania.


Water turf efficiently by soaking 8-10 inches deep to moisten the Bermuda grass root zone.

Bedding plants will need water more often this month.


Transplant herbs such as basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme.

Plant desert-adapted plants this month. The roots readily expand in the heated soil.


The first fig crop starts ripening this month. Fruit matures only on the tree, so keep birds away by covering with netting.


Feed cacti and succulents during the warm months. Apply a fertilizer formulated specifically for cacti and succulents every month.

Apply fertilizer twice monthly to vegetables. Do not add to dry soil.

Cut back on fertilizing roses to encourage plants to slow down for the summer.


Apply pre-emergent to avoid weeds when the monsoons arrive.


Prune back mature bougainvillea, lantana and hibiscus to stimulate blooms.

Cut back spring bloomers such as brittle bush, penstemon and salvia. Prune young trees early in the summer to slow growth and correct structure.


Cover vegetables with 50-70 percent shade cloth to reduce temperatures, prevent sunscald and increase blossom set for better fruit production.

Cover citrus trunks to prevent sunburn damage.

Drape plants with netting or shade cloth to protect from birds and insects.


Basil is referred to as the “king of herbs” for its culinary versatility. It has more than 50 cultivars, with a few mimicking the flavors of other spices or even fruit. This tropical herb is a must for even the smallest kitchen garden. Its name, Ocimum basilicum, is difficult to say, but it’s easy to grow. Basil only requires full sun for at least six hours a day, warm temperatures (above 50 degrees F. at night) and moist soil. Your local garden center probably offers a few basil varieties as seedlings, but to grow the more unusual cultivars, you’ll need to start from seed. Harvest the top leaves to keep the plant growing and to prevent flowering.

Sweet basil is most common and used in Italian dishes and is the main ingredient for pesto. Thai basil variety has a distinct, spicy, anise-clove flavor. Often used in Asian cuisine. Lemon basil has a citrus flavor and enhances chicken dishes. Lime basil can be a fresh addition to teas and margaritas.

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