1. Given adequate, or maybe I should say luxurious soil preparation, where fast-draining amendments creating a raised bed are utilized, the following vegetables can be planted in July with confidence that they will produce a reasonable harvest by summer’s end: beans, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, Swiss chard and summer squash. Root crops such as radishes, carrots and beets can also be planted; since their edible portion – the root – never sees the light of day, they will succeed with only a half-day of sun. Nearly all other vegetable crops require full-day sun exposure. As for annual flowers, several are still plantable in July, including: bachelor button, cosmos, marigold, nasturtium and zinnia.
2. Fertilize cymbidium orchids with a balanced fertilized 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 lath, shade cloth, or under a tree. Just make sure the shade cast by overhead trees is not so deep that it prevents sunlight from filtering through. Where cymbidiums lack sun and air circulation, black fungal spots form on leaves and on pseudodbulbs, the bulging structures at leaf bases. If you have a collection of cymbidiums, you may want to discard a seriously diseased plant rather than run the risk of having the fungus spread.
3. If you plan on pruning climbing roses such as Lady Banks before next spring, do it now so the plants can put out maximum new growth before they bloom again. Unlike other roses that are pruned in late winter, climbers that bloom only once a year produce next year’s flowers on this year’s growth so that if you wait to prune them in the winter, they will show few if any flowers when spring arrives. Alternatively, of course, you can just let them grow. The world’s largest Lady Banks rose grows in Tombstone, Arizona. It covers 5,000 square feet and grew from a rooted cutting imported from Scotland in 1885. When it blooms and a breeze is blowing, its fragrance fills the air a block or two away.
4. Except where vegetables and fruit trees are concerned, take the words “full sun” with a grain of salt when it comes to recommended exposures for plants in Southern California. 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 half-day rather than full-day sun to get the maximum quality blooms from them in summer months. It should be noted that I dwell in the San Fernando Valley and, as we know, our interior or inland valleys can sizzle in the summer. As you get closer to the coast, “full sun” takes on a different meaning and more of those plants recommended for it will do quite nicely growing in it, even in the hottest months of the year.
5. If you are considering a garden for partial shade, select from ferns, epiphyllum cacti, begonias, bergenia, coleus, callas lilies, and hydrangeas. Fuchsias are tricky to grow but one of them, the Gartenmeister Bonstadt variety, is highly reliable in partial shade. It grows into an upright bush, at least three feet tall by three feet wide, with fiery orange flowers and purplish burgundy foliage. Once established, it can live for a decade or more and makes an excellent subject for training up a trellis.
If you have a shade garden of which you are proud, let me know which plants are growing in it and the kind of care you provide.
Send questions, comments, and photos to [email protected]