Guest column: Gardening in July in Oklahoma
The main things that need to be done in July are watering, deadheading, weeding, managing pests, and harvesting vegetables. Work early in the morning and late in the evening when it is cooler - that's also prime mosquito time, so be sure to take precautions. Follow the shade, and drink lots of water. Make time to enjoy your yard instead of just working in it
• Ornamentals: Cut back cannas for continuing bloom. Remove spent flowers and a new flower cluster will appear from the stalk. When the second cluster has bloomed, cut the stalk, leaving some leaves. New canes will produce more buds and keep flowers going all summer. Continue to deadhead all perennials and annuals to keep them blooming. Prune roses by one-third now for more beautiful bloom this fall. Pinch or cut back mums and asters for the last time by July 15th so they will have time to set buds for fall bloom. Sow seeds of annuals such as zinnias, cosmos, and marigolds now to replace fading plants. Be sure to keep the soil moist so the seeds can germinate. It’s time for the last planting of gladiolas. Plant red spider lilies and pink surprise lilies for flowers this fall. Divide and replant bearded iris now. Trim seedpods off crepe myrtles (if you can safely reach them) to keep them constantly blooming. It’s also a good time to buy container-grown crepe myrtles at the nursery while you can see them in full bloom and choose the color you want. There are many varieties, so be sure to check to see how big they will get and plant one that won’t get too big for your site.
• Insects: Spider mites love hot, dry weather. Control them with a strong spray of water from the hose. Webworms are becoming abundant. Keep them picked off and destroyed. The webs are small right now but will get larger as the caterpillars add plant material and move the web along the branch to get to more food. I just pull the webs out (don't stand underneath) and toss them on the ground for the birds to enjoy. You will see them mostly on Juniper species; however, I have found them occasionally on crepe myrtles and sand cherries.
• Lawn: Summer weather is hard on grass. Mow frequently so you do not remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at one time. Proper summer height for Bermuda is 2 inches. Keep the lawn mower blade sharp. Mow early in the morning as soon as the dew is dry or mow late in the evening to give the grass time to recover overnight. Do NOT mow in the heat of the day. It's too hard on the grass and on the one doing the mowing. Water early in the morning, water deeply, and water only when necessary.
• Vegetable Garden: Keep cucumbers well watered or they will become bitter and also attract cucumber beetles. It’s time to plant pumpkin and gourd seeds if you want to have them in time for Halloween. Most slicing tomatoes will not set fruit when temperatures reach 90, but cherry tomatoes will usually continue to produce. Try a fall garden this year. You can plant the following vegetable seeds around July 15th: beans, corn, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, and carrots. You can also plant the following vegetable transplants: eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower. The hard part is keeping everything moist enough during the heat. Stay Safe & Happy Summer Gardening!