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Calendar - July
Gardener's Checklist - July FILLERS
July Articles - Click Here
July 4 - July 10
Check brown spots in lawns for sodweb worms and grubs.
If the foliage is dry and yellowed on spring blooming bulbs, be sure to cut it off. Divide and replant any crowded clumps of bulbs for better bloom next year.
Plant garden mums now for a blaze of color this fall.
Feed tuberous begonias and fuchsias with 0-10-10 fertilizer.
Divide and transplant bearded iris.
July 11 - July 17
Keep bougainvillea vines on the dry side during their blooming season to  insure the brightest colored bracts.
Hydrangeas in tubs on a shaded patio or under a lath will add a large splash of color with their enormous blooms.
Feed citrus and avocados monthly during the growing season.
Treat Walnut husk fly with applications of Malathion and spreader sticker.
Fill containers with colorful blooming annuals and set them throughout the outdoor  living areas: on decks, by front doors, on porches and balconies.
July 18 - July 24
Remember to keep the mower blades high, 2-2 1/2 inches tall to give the lawn enough foliage to produce food.
Mulch heavily around the base of rose bushes and follow a regular watering program. Roses love deep, thorough waterings.
Trim off old flowers on summer annuals to prolong blooming.
Plant a kitchen plot of herbs. Many of them are perennial and will give you tasty snippets of flavor for winter stews and soups.
Mildew in the garden can be caused by watering too late in the day. Try watering on an "ascending" (morning) temperature.
July 25 - July 31
Encourage bushy growth and increased flower production on geraniums and fuchsias by pinching out tip growth regularly.
For larger blooms from chrysanthemums this fall, disbud them now. Also stake and tie  the plants to prevent drooping and breaking.
Plant early flowering sweet peas for an abundance of flowers during the holidays.
Pinch off fuchsia seed pods to extend production.
Words of warning: with soaring temperatures do not leave plant material in a hot car  for even fifteen minutes. Make the garden center your last stop on the way home or make  arrangements for delivery.


July Fillers

Interested in lilies? Well, now is the time to plant lily bulbs. Success with this flower is assured if gardeners take the time to prepare the soil prior to planting. Lilies prefer a generous portion of decayed organic matter (humus) one that's rich and porous like the soil you would prepare for a high yielding vegetable garden or for chrysanthemums and dahlias. This also means they require a well draining soil. (Choose a sunny spot.)  Planting should take place as soon as possible after purchase because lily bulbs do not  really go dormant and should not be left to dry out. Lilies can be planted in a flower  border or in and around evergreen shrubs. They like their head in the sun but the lower  part of the plant in the shade. The current lily hybrids gives a wide choice of flower  color and flower shapes. Be sure to plant several varieties as they're all very striking when they bloom.

Everyone is more health conscious these days. Not so many sauces, not as many rich marinades. So what takes the place of these marinades? How about herbs? Most folks find  growing their own herbs an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Just as vegetables grown in your own backyard provide an incomparable taste treat, homegrown herbs proved the freshest aromas and flavors possible. Just chop up a handful of rosemary, thyme and oregano, add a little olive oil and some pepper vinegar and you have a great all around marinade for meat  and poultry. Besides this, herbs are attractive plants adding their unusual flair to the container garden or even a planting bed designed especially for them.

If gardeners want to plant their gardens with a tropical motif in mind, there are many types of plants to choose from that will bring this vision into reality. Cannas are one of  the flowering plants that are very suitable for tropical or exotic settings. Their large leaves resemble the banana plant and their flowers bloom on top of three to six foot stalks in white, coral, pink, apricot, salmon, yellow or red. Since they like full sun,  you can grow them in well-draining soil by the backyard pool or even in large containers.  You'll find them in bloom at the nursery.

While you're in the midst of the warm summer, you might take note of your garden and where you could plant climate controls. Vines that are grown on overhead trellises or to cover arbors provide shade, and with the right plant some pleasing fragrance. Trees can be  planted to cast shadows on the driveway to shade your car or near the kitchen and living  room windows to keep homes cool. Take note and plant accordingly remembering that if you  choose a deciduous plant that sheds its leaves each winter, the sun will shine through  during the cooler months of the year to help warm your home.

Your beautiful garden won't last forever this summer and it's sad to watch the advance of cold weather and see these flowers die. Vegetables and fruits are easily preserved from summer harvest so must your garden flowers have a shortened life? The answer is "no", you take a little time to preserve them. The easiest way to dry flowers is  by air drying. The first step is to choose a place that is dry and dark, with good air circulation. Harvest the flowers you'd like to preserve before they are fully open and  strip the foliage from the stems. Tie small flowers in bunches so that their flower heads do not touch, then hang them upside down. Most will dry in two to three weeks.

Lawns need water during the warm weather, but don't be wasteful! If water is running off to the gutter, turn the hose or sprinkler system off until the water is absorbed and  then on again for few minutes to permit seepage. You may need to aerate because your lawn  may be compacted.

This month and next your local nursery will have many plants that will accent autumn by  brightening up the home garden. Unexpected pleasure can be encountered by planting some of the lesser-known plants that will provide brilliant splashes of color here and there.  Among these plants are the Japanese barberry. Its leaves turn bright shades of orange and  red until winter when its berries linger on leafless branches. The Oregon grape is an  evergreen shrub that acts like a deciduous one that 's about to drop its leaves. In the  fall as the weather cools, its leaves color up in tones of red which are often very vivid.  Its new leaves in spring are a bronzy color and in summer yellow flowers appear. One of the deciduous cotoneasters is C. divaricatus and this plant not only produces colorful  berries but its foliage turns bright orange to red in the fall.

Shrubs with bloom and berries can be planted now for fall. They include the popular  abelia with its glossy green leaves which turn bronze in the fall and give a show of white  or pink tubular flowers in the summer. Common lilac (syringa) is another. Its blue/purple  flowers are fragrant. The native wild lilac (ceanothus) flowers in a variety of blue shades. It will grow where other shrubs may not such as a rocky slope or the corner of the  yard which doesn't receive much attention as far as water is concerned. Planted in the  fall, these shrubs and others become better established because the soil is still warm  from summer but the temperature is cooler. Later when the rains come the ground will be  moistened deeply giving the shrub's roots a chance to grow and reach downward, anchoring the plant securely prior to a surge of growth come spring.

July Garden Articles

The Sunflower has many faces

You see them everywhere: in the garden, on dresses, made into jewelry or decorating pot  holders. No matter where you look you'll find sunflowers.

Sunflower remains have been found in North American archaeological sites as early as 3,000 B.C. The center of origin for wild sunflowers is considered to be the Western Plains  of North America, but the ancestors of the cultivated type have been traced to the  southwest of the Missouri-Mississippi River valley areas. The first breeders of sunflowers  appear to have been the Ozark Bluff Dwellers, who selected plants and seed for  cultivation.

The sunflower and American Indians shared the land and had close contact in early  American history. For most Indians, the primary use of the sunflower was food. They were lightly roasted then ground into flour and used in breads or with other vegetables.  Through ingenuity, the American Indians found other uses for the seed and other parts of the plant.

Spanish explorers, while looking for gold and treasures, collected many of the New World's flora, introducing the sunflower to Europe for its ornamental qualities. The first published record of the sunflower was in 1568 by the famous Belgian herbalist Rembert  Dodoes. By 1616 the sunflower was commonplace in England's gardens.

The sunflower spread quickly though out most of Europe, but it was grown more for its  ornamental value than anything else. It is in Russia that the European success story really starts. The Holy Orthodox Church of Russia forbade the use of many foods during  Lent and Advent, including many which were rich in oil. The Russians eagerly accepted the sunflower, recognizing it as a source of oil that could be eaten without breaking the laws  of the church. Russia soon became the foremost producer of sunflower seeds. In the last 50  years, the Russians bred sunflowers for high oil and improved disease resistance.

Due to advanced hybridizing techniques there are many new and beautiful varieties  available on the market. Typically we think of sunflowers as tall towering plants with one large flower on top. Now you can choose sunflowers that have been developed specifically for containers. There are sunflowers with chocolate colored faces, some with lemon yellow. And there are sunflowers that are multi branched with dozens of smaller flowers blooming at the same time. Sunflowers make excellent cut flowers. So if you've looking for a new  fresh face in the garden - plant sunflowers.

This Princess Will Win Your Heart

The Princess Flower (Tibouchina urvilleana or Pleroma splendons) is a delightful shrub or tree for the garden. A native of Brazil, it has found itself a home in many climates and has even become a favorite in greenhouses when the climate is too harsh.

The leaves of this plant are attraction enough without a flower. They are large, oval  and very velvety. The ribs are very clear and while the leaf is green, it can have a  definite red tinge to the edges and to the velvety hairs that cover the green. Even the  tips of the branches as well as the buds have orange to bronzy red hairs covering them so they appear velvety, too.

But the prize of this particular plant comes in the spectacular, very showy royal  purple flowers that dot the plant from May on into January of the following year. The flowers are about 3" in size and are usually found in clusters at the tips of the  branches.

The plant itself likes an acid soil. Plant in the sun but keep its root in the shade.  Good drainage is important with this plant as well as all others. Pruning should be done  after each flowering cycle because it can become very leggy if not watched. It does handle  rather severe pruning, but try to avoid such action whenever possible. Early spring is a  good time for the main pruning you would want to do to keep the plant in shape. After the  spring pruning, a light feeding would be in order and it can and should be easily repeated following the bloom cycles. Watering follows any normal pattern you have for your garden with a little more frequent watering when actually in bloom. To assure that you, too, can have this princess in your garden, check with your local California Certified Nursery  Professionalª and find the right exposure.

For Tropical Color Plant Bougainvillea!

One of the most prolific bloomers, and friend of the home owner is that fabulous plant,  bougainvillea. Its popularity has certainly been noted by growers and much research has  gone into hybridizing this plant. We now have many, many bract colors available as well as varieties of plants. There are bougainvillea with variegated leaves, some are vining, some make a good groundcover or excellent basket plants. Bracts are single, double and  generally the plants have few thorns.

'Brilliant Variegated' has a red flower and a variegated silver and green leaf. Other  mounding varieties that work wonders in baskets or as a ground cover would be Raspberry Ice, La Jolla and Crimson Jewel.

For good vining varieties choose Barbara Karst. It is a popular double variety but there are others such as Tahitian Maid (pink), Afterglow (yellow-orange), California Gold  (pale yellow), Jamaica White, Lavender Queen, San Diego Red, Orange King or Pink Tiara  (pale pink to rose).

The bougainvillea is an easy plant to grow though there is a definite warning at the time of planting. The root ball is very sensitive. According to CCN Prosª it is best to  split the sides of the container 4 to 6 times after the plant has been set in the planting  hole (container and all). Leave the plant in the container and it will grow out of the split sides and thrive. Chances are good that if you try to remove it from the container you will lose the plant. Once the planting hole has been backfilled water your  bougainvillea thoroughly.

Growth is best in full sun though it can do well in partial sun. If you are in a frost sensitive area plant the bougainvillea in a sheltered spot. Against a southern or western facing wall would be a good choice or in a courtyard where it is surrounded with heat  retaining walls. One additional thing which can be done to help insure the plant against  frost is gradually cutting back on watering as the cool weather begins to set in. This  will cause the plant to harden off and be better able to withstand the cold.  Bougainvillea's are also drought tolerant once they are established.

During the growing season, the bougainvillea grows rapidly and needs to be watered. The  closer it gets to blooming time, start decreasing the frequency of watering so the plant can do as great a job in producing flowers as it has done in growing.

They Take The Heat

It's summertime and the living is hot. If the yard also looks hot and lacking color and  shade, the overall effect can be uninviting. But change the yard and what's in it and you'll have an inviting oasis in the middle of summer heat.

Roses thrive in spite of the weather as long as they are treated right. Because they are a heavy bloomer, it is absolutely necessary to feed them on a regular basis and see  that they are deeply watered. You can add them to your yard at any time of the year. Choose climbers, old fashioneds, hedge roses, tea, multiflora and grandifloras for  beautiful results.

Two really great shrubs that can add a soft but pleasing color swath to the yard are the abelias and the escallonias. Both plants and their family members will tolerate some shade in the hot inland valleys. Abelia and escallonia make excellent hedges, foundation plants or use them as accent shrubs. Check with your California Certified Nursery  Professionalª for the right shrub in the right place.

One old time favorite that is making a definite comeback as people find what a valuable  plant it is to a landscape, is the shrimp plant (Beloperone guttata). It was named for the flower which is a tan orange with flecks of white and the fact that the flower seems to be  segmented and hangs like a shrimp swimming in the sea. The plant itself has lovely green leaves that provide a background for the blossoms. It can be a wonderful foundation plant, particularly near floor to ceiling windows where the uniqueness of its foliage and flower color can be appreciated over such a long period (summer and fall) both inside and out.

Another plant that provides a sudden splash of color is the crape myrtle. It has been  hybridized so that it can be found in forms suitable for a hanging basket to full blown  trees. Once established, it is an excellent drought tolerant plant. They manage to survive  with infrequent watering. Crape mrytle is covered with showy flower bracts which range in color from white, pink, rose to lavender, purple and brilliant red.

A rather feathery graceful tree with puffs of pink or cream like flowers covering its  canopy is the silk tree (Albizzia julibrissin). It has fern like foliage. It loves the high heat of summer and puts on a spectacular flower show in late spring. It makes a good  patio tree.

From the large to the small, you will find many plants that both tolerate the heat and even thrive while bringing spectacular color as an added bonus. Visit your nursery today  for the best selection and suggestions on heat loving perennials, shrubs and trees.

Stars Shine On This Plant

Perhaps one of the most popular plants is the ever surprising star jasmine. Actually there are two star jasmines but the commonly planted one is Trachelospermum jasminoides.

The popularity rests more with the fact that the leaves have a more distinct luster to them and range from a bright light green on new growth to a darker but still glossy green on the mature leaves. The leaves are also up to 3" long, about 1/3rd longer than its relative, Trachelospermum asiaticum. Both plants have the same general growth pattern with the "asiaticum" doing well in two more planting zones than the "jasminoides" and stopping at 15 feet rather than the 20 feet of the  "jasminoides". The flowers are a little smaller, more creamy in color but bloom from April to June in most areas.

The star jasmine is a plant that can be trained to do almost anything you can imagine. It is found in hanging baskets, spilling over walls, climbing fences, trellised both in  the ground and as a container plant. It makes a great screen when trellised or controlled.  It is also a very graceful fragrant ground or bank cover.

It is a slow starting plant so if you do intend to use it on a trellis or want fences  or walls covered, it is wise to start with a somewhat mature plant. You want to supply  this plant with support at once. Be sure to establish the direction of growth you have in  mind. Set the plants just under three feet apart, unless of course you are after a very fast coverage. As the plants mature and the growth picks up, be sure to trim about 1/3rd  of the older growth to prevent the plant from becoming woody and bare inside and at the base. Flowers appear on side branches and are lightly fragrant. The normal time of bloom  is June and July, possibly a month or so earlier in the deserts. Even so, more blossoms will be popping through out the summer and fall months. In cases of mild climates, blossoms can be found on the plants literally all year.

If you have elected to use this versatile plant as a ground cover, then plant it on two  foot intervals. Use a diamond shape planting plan to assure good coverage as soon as  possible. The shoots that do not show any intention of drooping should be removed so that  the energy of the plant can go to those doing what you want. Plant with organic soil  amendments and feed lightly on the first feeding after planting. Once the plants are in and have become established, a program of feeding every spring and late summer should be maintained. Those planted in containers should be fed monthly.

Siberian Peashrub

The name Siberian peashrub, or Siberian pea-tree, instantly brings a picture to mind of  a shrub that lives in a very cold climate. Actually, this plant, Caragana arborescens, is  a deciduous shrub or small tree that belongs to the pea family. It is valued for its extreme hardiness and for its display of yellow flowers. This native of Siberia and  Manchuria grows up to 20 feet with a 15 foot spread.

Plant it in areas of the state where cold winters or hot, dry summers are prevalent and  it will thrive. Come spring or early summer, its yellow, fragrant flowers which resemble sweet peas bloom in either clusters or singly.

The Siberian Peashrub can be used as windbreak and screen or simply grown as a small tree. You may find other species of this plant which have more finely cut foliage or even  a weeping habit. All do their best in poor, well-drained soil in a full sun location.

This nearly indestructible choice for a mountain or desert region can be harmed if you choose to transplant an older, more established plant. So when you do plant it, give careful consideration as to choosing a permanent location. Any pruning to keep the Siberian peashrub in shape or to contain its size should be done right after flowering. No  other care is really necessary for this 'tough' plant.

Neither cold, heat or drought will affect the Siberian peashrub. Plant your Pea shrub  in a corner which does not receive regular watering and remains under drought conditions  most of the year except during the rainy season. You will be pleasantly surprised not to  have to hook up the hose and trek over to this outer Mongolia part of your garden.

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