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.
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.
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.
TIP OF THE MONTH
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.