1. Given proper, or maybe I should say luxurious, soil preparation where fast-draining amendments creating a raised bed are used, the following vegetables can be planted in July with confidence that they will produce a reasonable harvest by the end of the summer: beans, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, Swiss chard and summer squash. Roots like radishes, carrots and beets can also be planted; as their edible part – the root – never sees the light of day, they will succeed with only half a day of sun. Almost all other vegetable crops require all-day sun exposure. As for annual flowers, several can still be planted in July, including: single button, cosmos, marigold, nasturtium and zinnia.
2. Fertilize cymbidium orchids with a balanced fertilizer such as a 14-14-14 (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) slow-release product or a liquid fertilizer with a 30-10-10 formulation. Cybidium orchids grow best in partial shade during the summer months, whether under a slat, shade cloth, or under a tree. Just make sure the shadow cast by the trees overhead isn’t so deep that it blocks sunlight from filtering through. Where cymbidiums lack sun and air circulation, black fungal spots form on the leaves and on the pseudodbulbs, the domed structures at the base of the leaves. If you have a collection of cymbidiums, you may want to discard a seriously diseased plant rather than risk spreading the fungus.
3. If you plan to prune climbing roses such as Lady Banks before next spring, do so now so that the plants can regrow as much as possible before they bloom again. Unlike other roses which are pruned at the end of winter, vines which bloom only once a year produce the following year’s flowers on this year’s growth, so if you wait for the prune in winter, they will show few or no flowers when spring arrives. Alternatively, of course, you can just let them grow. The largest Lady Banks rose in the world grows in Tombstone, Arizona. It covers 5,000 square feet and comes from a rooted cutting imported from Scotland in 1885. When it blooms and a breeze blows, its fragrance fills the air a block or two away.
4. Except when it comes to vegetables and fruit trees, take the words “full sun” with a grain of salt when it comes to recommended exposures for Southern California plants. This is especially true when planting in July, August and September, unless you work from home and can water your new garden babies two or three times a day. But even then I would plant roses, for example, in sun for half a day rather than a full day to get the most quality blooms from them during the summer months. It should be noted that I live in the San Fernando Valley and as we know our inland or inland valleys can be sizzling in the summer. As you get closer to the coast, ‘full sun’ takes on a different meaning and more of these recommended plants will grow quite well there, even in the hottest months of the year.
5. If you are considering a partial shade garden, choose from ferns, epiphyllum cacti, begonias, bergenias, coleus, calla lilies and hydrangeas. Fuchsias are difficult to grow, but one, the Gartenmeister Bonstadt variety, is very reliable in partial shade. It grows into an erect bush, at least three feet tall by three feet wide, with bright orange flowers and purplish burgundy foliage. Once established, it can live for a decade or more and makes an excellent subject for training a trellis.
If you have a shade garden that you are proud of, let me know what plants grow there and what kind of care you provide.
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