July a time for pinching, pruning and shaping

By: eileen tully Colorado Master Gardener
July 6, 2013 Updated: July 6, 2013 at 10:05 am
photo - July is a busy month for gardeners. Pinch back or disbud dahlias for larger flowers. Remove at least two pair of side buds below the top bud.
July is a busy month for gardeners. Pinch back or disbud dahlias for larger flowers. Remove at least two pair of side buds below the top bud. 


- July is usually our hottest month, so take extra precautions: drink plenty of water, put on sunscreen and come inside during the hottest part of the day.

- On average precipitation in our area is 2 inches in July. We can hope for an average or above average month.

- Continue with all efforts to conserve water by adhering to your designated watering days and hand watering during the cooler part of the day and when the wind is calm.

- If the drought continues and you notice extreme stress in your garden, determine which plants are most important and water them first.

- Don't forget about your trees! A lawn is much easier to replace than mature trees. Check the top and outer leaves of trees and shrubs for drought injury. Brown or tan scorch on broad leaves from deciduous trees and brown needles or dead tips on conifers are signs the tree is in trouble. Pine needles turning brown on the part of the branch closest to the trunk is normal; be watchful for browning on the tip of the branch.

- Reapply mulch. It helps prevent soil compaction, retain moisture and keeps the soil cooler.

- Mow lawns as often as needed, keeping grass height at 2 + to 3 inches. Do not fertilize lawns in July heat, but do leave nitrogen-rich grass clipping son the lawn.

Pinch, prune, shape

Pinching, pruning and shaping: the motto of the July garden.

- Lightly prune arborvitae, junipers and boxwood once new growth has emerged and expanded the shape of the plant. When pruning, shape shrubs so light can reach all parts of the plant.

- Stop pinching fall-blooming perennials such as asters and chrysanthemums. But DO pinch back petunias when they get "leggy." It will encourage the plant to branch and become fuller.

- Cut back delphinium and perennial salvia to encourage a second bloom.

- Fertilize hybrid tea and standard roses. Remove faded flowers to encourage new blooms. Cut the stem of single flowering roses back to the first 5-leaflet leaf. Prune climbing roses after flowering.

- Pinch back or disbud dahlias for larger flowers. Remove at least two pair of side buds below the top bud.

- Dig and divide bearded iris and spring blooming poppies. Divide all iris that are crowded and discard old, large or diseased rhizomes

- Continue deadheading perennials to keep the garden neat and flowers blooming.

Vegetable garden

- Harvest zucchini when the fruits are 6 to 8 inches long. They are at their best at that size.

- Replant leaf lettuce and sow seeds of sugar snap peas for a fall harvest.

Diseases and pests

- Watch for powdery mildew on garden phlox and roses. Prune phlox and roses to keep an open, vase-like shape that will encourage air circulation and help prevent powdery mildew. But if you notice it on the plant, use a product containing sulphur as a safe and environmentally friendly way to control the disease.

- Hollyhock rust is a fungus that causes the leaves to yellow and wilt, but it doesn't hurt the plant. Removing leaves as they yellow will help keep the fungus from spreading.

- Control pests using the least toxic measure possible. Tomato hornworms can be picked off the plant and tossed aside. Get in the habit of looking for a sprawling white web on Alberta spruce, junipers and boxwood: It's a sign of spider mites and a strong spray of water from a hose will temporarily get rid of them.

Insecticidal soap is effective controlling aphids, which seem to appear overnight in the billions on lupine and other plants. Lady beetles (lady bugs) are beneficial insects and will help you control unwanted garden pests.

Be inspired by other gardens

- Visit the Demonstration Garden maintained by members of the Horticultural Arts Society near Monument Valley Park at Cache la Poudre Street and Glen Road.

- Colorado Springs Utilities Conservation and Environment Center, 2855 Mesa Road, has a Xeriscape Demonstration Garden that shows how beautiful and colorful a low-water garden can be. A self-guided walking tour map and guide to the hydrozones is provided at the main desk.

- See private gardens! Take a garden tour: Friends of Extension for Colorado State University Extension is having a garden tour in the southwest area of Colorado Springs the weekend of July 13 and 14. Tickets are on sale now: seven gardens in the Broadmoor area for $15. For more information, call CSU extension office, 520-7684.


Get answers to you horticultural questions by calling a master gardener volunteer at 520-7684 or emailing CSUmg2@elpasoco.com. Volunteers are available to help you Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon.

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