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Surviving July: Arizona Gardening in the Low Desert

Gardening in the low desert of Arizona during July is difficult. Learn how to maximize your Arizona garden’s potential in July and navigate the challenges of hot weather to ensure your plants’ survival. Keep reading to learn which tasks to do, how much to water, what pests to expect, and what to plant. I’ve also included a helpful “July Garden Task Checklist.”

July is typically the hottest month in the low desert. Monsoons may bring humidity and moisture, but they may not. It’s essential to pay attention to your plants’ watering needs this month. The average temperature is 107°F (81°C), and the average rainfall is 1.22 inches. When you’re in the garden this month, remember to work outside in the cooler morning and evening hours and stay hydrated.

Arizona Garden in July

What To Do in the Low Desert Arizona Garden in July

Click on the title to jump to that section and learn more about what to do during July:

Low desert includes elevations below 3500 ft in the Southwest, such as the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas.


Vegetable Gardening in the Low Desert Arizona Garden in July

A few keys to gardening during July in the low desert include:

Vegetable garden tasks during July:

  • Prepare for monsoon winds by staking roselle plants, large sunflowers, and other plants requiring extra support. Learn more about monsoon gardening in this blog post.
  • Consider planting sweet potato slips or black-eyed peas as a cover crop in any empty beds. Learn more in this blog post.
  • Fertilize sweet potatoes with a balanced fertilizer
  • Clear out squash and other plants that have stopped producing or show signs of heat stress and disease to make room for monsoon and fall planting.
  • Don’t prune or fertilize most plants. Most need to be in summer dormancy to survive. Pruning can expose new areas to sunlight damage, and fertilizing can cause stress. 
  • Bell peppers can get sunburned if fruits get direct sun; provide some shade if scalding is a problem. 
  • Tomatoes may be finishing up. Remove spent or diseased plants. Note which varieties you liked and which did well. If tomato plants still look healthy, let them stay in the garden and keep them alive. They will produce again when temperatures fall.
  • Cucumber production slows or even stops this month as temperatures heat up. Pull plants if necessary if cucumbers are bitter or pests or diseases are an issue. Plant Armenian cucumbers in their place. Although other cucumbers may not like the heat, Armenian cucumbers thrive all summer.
  • Pot up any indoor-grown seedlings outgrowing their containers if it is not time to plant them outside. Fertilize indoor-grown seedlings every other watering.
Anemone corms
  • If you haven’t already, order garlic and other fall-planted bulbs like ranunculus and anemone. Also, order prechilled tulip bulbs to plant at Thanksgiving, and Saffron crocus if you want to grow the world’s most expensive spice.
  • Go through your seeds and plan for fall and winter planting. 
  • Onion blooms have developed seeds. Save them and try growing your own from seed. You can also save bolted parsley and dill seeds.

Possible Harvests This Month:

Roma tomatoes

Harvest crops early in the day when temperatures are cooler, and their moisture content is higher. Bring harvests inside right away to prolong storage life and increase food quality.

Here’s a tip for cucumbers after harvesting: Immediately immerse them in cold water to disperse “field heat” to increase the increase storage life and keep cucumbers crisp. 

Immersing cucumbers in ice water cools them quickly

Vegetables:

Armenian Cucumbers, Butternut Squash, Pumpkins, Cucumbers, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Eggplant, Okra, Peppers, Mini Pumpkins, Beans, Tomatillos, Amaranth, Borlotti Beans, Asparagus Beans

Herbs:

Oregano, Sage, Basil, Dill Seeds, Parsley Seeds, Rosemary, Thyme, Mint, Lemongrass, Stevia, Lemon Verbena, Lemon Balm

Fruit:

Blackberries, Chichiquelite, Figs, Apples, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Passionfruit, Grapes, Ground Cherries

(click on the link to read “How to Grow” articles about each crop)

Vegetable Watering Guidelines:

  • Hopefully, monsoon humidity and added moisture will come to the low desert this month. A rain gauge is helpful for measuring how much rain you receive. If you measure .5 inches of rain, check that the rain penetrated your soil and then turn off your water timer. You can also insert a screwdriver into grass or rocks to determine whether to water. If it passes easily into the soil, you can wait to water. Monitor plants for signs of stress and ensure they get enough water and have good drainage.  
  • During hot weather, annual vegetables need more frequent watering. Water to a depth of about 8-12 inches every 2-3 days, allowing the top of the soil to dry out before watering again. 
  • During July, I usually water my raised beds every other day. I use the garden grids from Garden in Minutes to water my raised beds. Use code Angela10 to save $10 off $100 or GITG5 to save 5 percent on any size order.
  • If you haven’t already, check the irrigation system and timer. Run the system; inspect all drips and sprinklers for leaks and proper watering. 
Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller

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Join me, and let’s make your garden thrive under the desert sun!


Low Desert Arizona in July: Pests & Wildlife to Watch Out For This Month

Monitor plants for pests and diseases. If plants are struggling or overwhelmed with pests, it is often best to remove them rather than treat them. The heat is stressful for plants – they probably won’t recover if they are overtaken. 

Damage from leaf-cutter bees

Common Pests During July:

  • You may see circles cut out from leaves on roses, pomegranates, and other plants. Leaf-cutter bees are responsible and use the leaves to build their nests. It’s cosmetic damage only and nothing to worry about. These solitary bees are excellent pollinators.
  • Monitor squash and melon plants for squash bugs in all stages: adults, eggs, and nymphs. Keep a soapy bucket handy to drop them into. If numbers increase or get out of hand, consider pulling the plant.
  • Three-lined potato bugs are a common nuisance on tomatillos and ground cherries. If spotted, check plants several times a day. Keep a soapy bucket handy to drop them into. If numbers increase or get out of hand, consider pulling the plant.
  • Leaf miners on cantaloupe or other melons. Remove damaged leaves.
  • You may still have aphids or chrysanthemum lace bugs on sunflowers, but hopefully, beneficial insects like lacewings and ladybugs will take care of them for you. If not, you can remove damaged leaves and spray them with water.
Spray off beans with water to discourage spider mites
  • Spider mites are common on beans, especially in hot, dry conditions. Spray the area often with water to discourage them. If you need to treat, a combination of Safer Insect Killing Soap and Monterey Horticultural Oil can be effective. Use at sundown and then rinse the leaves well afterward to prevent burning. Follow package instructions and use sparingly– only on affected areas to prevent harming beneficial insects.
  • If rollie-pollies are eating seedlings (they especially love beans) before they sprout, an effective solution is to sprinkle a small amount of this slug and snail bait when you plant. It is iron phosphate with an attractant for slugs. It’s non-toxic to worms and safe to use.
  • Monitor tomato, pepper, and eggplants for tomato hornworms. If you see insect frass (droppings) or eaten leaves, look closely for hornworms. Handpick and feed to chickens.
A soapy bucket of water is essential for catching squash bugs and leaf-footed bugs
  • Monitor pomegranate trees for all stages of leaf-footed bugs. If spotted, daily vigilance and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water are effective solutions to this difficult pest.
  • Other common pests include katydids, crickets, and grasshoppers. Birds and spiders are natural predators.
  • Milkweed and other seed bugs are common on seed pods and best left untreated; they usually don’t cause damage.
Lovebirds on branching sunflowers in Mesa, Arizona

Wildlife and Beneficial Insects:

Abandoned cicada exoskeletons on a vitex trunk
  • During July, the hum of cicadas often fills the air. They emerge from the soil and love warm, humid temperatures. Cicadas are Important pollinators and a food source for other animals.
  • Lovebirds and lesser goldfinch are commonly seen on sunflowers this time of year. They love the seeds, and the lesser goldfinch also enjoy eating the leaves.
  • Bees, hoverflies, wasps, lacewings, praying mantids, syrphid flies, parasitic wasps, assassin bugs, and other beneficial insects are active now.
  • Other wildlife may include lizards, hummingbirds, butterflies, and moths.
  • Keep your chickens cool by providing water for them to stand in. Consider adding a misting stand. Keeping them hydrated with extra cucumbers and watermelon can also help. 
Gulf Fritillary caterpillar


Low Desert Arizona in July: Container Gardening Tips

  • If possible, put small containers away until the fall. Use the soil from the containers as mulch or add to compost.
  • Move containers to areas of your yard that receive afternoon shade naturally.
  • Group containers and grow bags close together for an insulating effect.

Container Watering Guidelines:

  • As temperatures heat up, monitoring containers closely and watering often is crucial. You may have to water every day. If you’re not sure, use a moisture meter to check soil moisture levels.
  • If containers dry out too much, the soil may become hydrophobic. When watering, check the soil to ensure water is absorbed and not repelled by hydrophobic soil.
  • During July, I usually water my containers every other day and fill up the ollas each time I water. Adding ollas to containers helps with watering during the summer. I use ollas from Growoya. For a discount, use code GROWING.

Flower Gardening in the Low Desert Arizona Garden in July

Arizona gardening in July wouldn’t be the same without sunflowers! I love this branching variety. They are everywhere in my yard, and I love them. There are many reasons to plant sunflowers: they provide shade, can be used as a trellis, attract wildlife and pollinators, and are simple to grow from seed in nearly any spot in your yard.

  • Rudbeckia attracts pollinators, grows well from seed, and makes an excellent cut flower.
  • Tithonia is a heat-loving favorite that also makes an excellent cover crop.
  • Globe Amaranth thrives in the heat with consistent watering. I like to harvest the flowers for cut flowers. I’ve planted them in my flower beds and throughout my garden beds to attract pollinators.
  • Cut back spent hollyhocks and save the seeds this month. Leave the roots in place.
  • Zinnias are a champion of Arizona gardening in July. Give them consistent moisture, and enjoy the lovely blooms! They are also excellent cut flowers.
Zinnias growing up through trellis netting for cut flowers

Which Flowers Might Be Blooming This Month:

Angelonia, Bee Balm, Celosia, Coleus, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Desert Milkweed, Echinacea, Four O’Clock, Gaillardia, Gazania, Gomphrena, Lisianthus, Passionflowers, Portulaca, Ratibida, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Scabiosa, Shasta Daisy, Skyflower, Statice, Strawflowers, Sunflowers, Tithonia, Vanity Verbena, Vinca, Yarrow, Zinnia

(click on the link to read “How to Grow” articles about each flower)

Bee balm

Flower Watering Guidelines:

As temperatures heat up, annual flowers will need more frequent watering. Water to a depth of about 8-12 inches every 2-4 days; allow the top of the soil to dry out before watering again.


Perpetual Flower Planting Calendar for Zone 9B

Flowers to Plant Outside & Seeds to Start Indoors Each Month in the Low Desert of Arizona.
PLANTING GUIDE: Each month lists annual flowers and bulbs to plant outside & seeds to start indoors.
BLOOMING GUIDE: Photos show what may be in bloom that month.


10 Flowers that love the heat of summer - and how to grow them -FLOWERS FOR ARIZONA SUMMERS – WHEN AND WHAT TO PLANT

Looking for more ideas for flowers that can take the heat of an Arizona summer? This article shares my favorite ones with tips for how to grow them. 


Fruit & Fruit Trees in the Low Desert Arizona Garden in July

Figs
  • Fertilize blackberries with a balanced fertilizer
  • If you haven’t already, mulch your trees well. Adding worm castings, compost, and mulch three times a year will prepare and help your trees from high summer temperatures. Learn more in this blog post. Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day are the best times to do this. However, it is beneficial at any time of year and will not burn plants.
  • Keep fruit picked up to discourage insects and pests.
  • Pomegranates may drop some fruit this month. Read this article for more information about how to grow pomegranates.
  • Anna’s apple harvests finish up this month. Fruit left too long on the plant may cook! Harvest and bring indoors. Here are our favorite recipes to use Anna apples.
  • Monitor grapes and blackberries for harvest readiness. Cover to protect from birds if necessary.
  • Shade newly planted fruit trees to help them survive their first summer. Monitor watering closely.
Grapes

Citrus:

  • Citrus is developing on all the citrus trees throughout the yard. Last month, the trees self-thinned, and the fruit that is left on the tree is growing well. Citrus trees appreciate the monsoon rains and higher humidity this month.
  • Paint or wrap any trunks exposed to sunlight to protect them from damage. Any water-based paint works to paint citrus. I prefer using tree wraps over paint. It’s like wearing sunscreen versus a swim shirt. The wrap offers better protection.

Fruit Watering Guidelines: 1, 2

Monitor your fruit trees for signs of water stress. Leaf curling is usually the first noticeable sign. Wet the soil from the tree trunk to just past the tree’s drip line.

  • Established citrus trees should be watered once every 7-14 days to a 2-3 feet depth.
  • Water annual fruit and high water use vines every 2-5 days to a depth of 8-12″.
  • Water established fruit trees every 7-10 days to a depth of 18-24″.
  • Grape vines need deep watering every 5 days. 
  • Water annual fruit and high water use vines every 2-5 days to a depth of 8-12″.
Grapefruit in July

Herb Gardening in the Low Desert Arizona Garden in July

Mrs. Burn’s lemon basil
  • Lemongrass grows quickly in the heat.
  • Lightly harvest perennial Herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano. Cutting back too much can be stressful.
  • Mint doesn’t look great over the summer. When temperatures moderate in the fall it will rebound.
  • Basil is the champion herb of summer. The more you harvest, the more it will grow. Use it and preserve it by freezing or freeze-drying.
  • Harvest seeds from bolting parsley, fennel, and dill.
Bolted fennel

Herb Watering Guidelines:

  • As temperatures heat up, annual herbs will need more frequent watering. Water to a depth of about 8-12 inches every 2-4 days; allow the top of the soil to dry out before watering again.
  • Water desert-adapted landscape perennial herbs (like rosemary) every 7-21 days (water to a depth of 18-24″).
  • Many Mediterranean herbs, such as sage, rosemary, lavender, oregano, and thyme, are more likely to die from overwatering and root rot in the summer than from underwatering. Take care not to overwater them.

Arizona Herb Planting Guide_ A Visual Planting Guide for Low Desert Herbs

Arizona Herb Planting Guide helps you learn when to plant over 30 different herbs in Arizona and whether to plant seeds or transplants.



Landscape Plants in the Low Desert Arizona Garden in July

Sparky Tecoma
  • Prepare for monsoon winds by staking any small trees requiring extra support and properly pruning trees and shrubs. If limbs or branches break, prune back to the main trunk if possible. Learn more about preparing for monsoons in this blog post.
  • Tecoma is in full bloom and doesn’t mind the heat. Hummingbirds and pollinators love it. This is an excellent addition to an Arizona garden landscape. 
  • Yellow Dot is a vigorous ground cover that grows rapidly in well-drained soil and can grow in full sun or shady areas. It looks great most of the year and provides a living mulch to trees in the summer heat.
  • Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine is a fast grower available in several colors. Lavish greenery and filler even in the hottest months. This vine is easy to start from cuttings; root in water first and then plant. It’s that simple. Regular watering keeps it lush. Learn more about how to grow sweet potato vine in this article.
  • July is not the month to prune or fertilize landscape plants, trees, and shrubs. Pruning and fertilizing encourage new growth and expose new areas to damaging sunlight, which is stressful for plants when temperatures are above 100°F (38°C).
  • If plants die, don’t replace them. Instead, look around at other plants in your neighborhood growing well for replacement ideas. For desert-adapted plants that require less water, check this guide, Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert. Wait to plant until the fall.
  • If stinknet sprouts in your yard, pull it and dispose of it so the seeds do not spread. If the flowers are dried and the plant is dead, remove it carefully— it will shed thousands of seeds. Bag it up in a sealed bag and throw it in the trash.
Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert
  • Palms are an exception to planting. They grow and get established best in warm soils, and July is an excellent month to plant them. Keep the roots and area around the roots hydrated to encourage growth into the surrounding soil. Support the plants until they become established to avoid disturbing the growing roots.
  • If you are considering removing Bermuda grass, July is an excellent time. Learn more in this blog post.
  • Provide shade for new plantings (less than 1 year old) if they show signs of stress, and monitor the root ball to ensure it does not dry out. This blog post discusses different ways to provide shade.

Landscape Watering Guidelines: 1

  • Water twice as long at least once. Plan one extra-long watering this month to flush the accumulated salt buildup deeper into the soil.
  • Desert-adapted trees, shrubs & vines every 7-21 days (water to a depth of 24-36″ trees / 18-24″ shrubs / 8-12″ vines).
  • High water use trees every 7-10 days (water to a depth of 18-24″).
  • High water use shrubs every 5-7 days (water to a depth of 8-12″).
  • High water use vines every 2-5 days (water to a depth of 8-12″).

Arizona Garden in July Checklist:


Which Vegetables, Herbs & Fruit to Plant in the Low Desert in July

After July 15 (or when monsoon season begins)

SEED, TRANSPLANT, OR BOTH? S = Seed / T= Transplant

Arizona Vegetable Planting Guide helps you learn when to plant vegetables in Arizona and whether to plant seeds or transplants.

With 50 vegetables that grow well in Arizona’s low desert, you will surely find one to try. 

Vegetable Planting Guide: A Visual Planting Guide for Low Desert Vegetables

Low Desert Arizona in July: Vegetable, herb & fruit seeds to start indoors

(Click the link for seed sources.)


Seed Box Labels with planting dates for vegetables and flowers


Which Flowers to Plant in the Low Desert of Arizona in July

Portulaca
  • Angelonia (T)
  • Cosmos (sulfur) (S)
  • Gomphrena* thru the 15th (T)
  • Purslane/Portulaca (ST)
  • Sunflower (S)
  • Vinca (T)
  • Zinnia (ST)

SEED, TRANSPLANT, OR BOTH? S = Seed / T= Transplant


Perpetual Flower Planting Calendar for Zone 9B

Flowers to Plant Outside & Seeds to Start Indoors Each Month in the Low Desert of Arizona.
PLANTING GUIDE: Each month lists annual flowers and bulbs to plant outside & seeds to start indoors.
BLOOMING GUIDE: Photos show what may be in bloom that month.


Low Desert Arizona in July: Flower seeds to start indoors

(Click the link for seed sources.)


Arizona annual flowers planting guide helps you learn when to plant flowers in Arizona and whether to plant seeds or transplants.


Sources:

1 – For additional information on watering practices, visit: “Association of Municipal Water Users Authority. (2023). Landscaping with Style in the Arizona Desert.” https://www.amwua.org/landscaping-with-style.

2 – https://extension.arizona.edu/sites/extension.arizona.edu/files/pubs/az1151-2021%20%282%29.pdf


If this post about low desert Arizona gardening during July was helpful, please share it:

Kim Wills

Saturday 18th of June 2022

I struggle with watering in the summer! Right now I hand water. Not sure how to get started on a watering system for my raised beds and tropical area. Suggestions? I want to order the timer, but what about the grids and how to hook them up?

Angela Judd

Tuesday 21st of June 2022

Watering during the hottest months of the year is tricky for sure. Adding an automatic watering system can help. Garden in Minutes has many helpful installation videos on their website if you are connecting the watering grids to a hose. If you are connecting to your main sprinkler system you may need professional help.

Rayanne Leister

Thursday 1st of July 2021

This blog is amazing, so helpful for our unique growing conditions here in Arizona, thanks so much for sharing all your wonderful information. Can you please recommend Tomato varieties best suited for fall and spring planting. I'm in Buckeye and have tried several Heirloom varieties, some do well, others not so much. Do you have a list of the best varieties of all vegetables to grow here? Again, THANK YOU!

Angela Judd

Sunday 4th of July 2021

Look for shorter season varieties. Some of my favorites are Celebrity, Early Girl, Yellow Pear and Roma. I don't have a list, but that's a good idea!

Aaron L

Saturday 15th of May 2021

Hi Angela! I love your videos and blog, thank you for doing this!

I do have one question... When you say plant these vegetables... are the above from seed or transplant.

Thank you so very kindly, and keep up the great work!

Angela Judd

Tuesday 18th of May 2021

You're right! I didn't specify on this post. I updated the post with the correct information. Thanks for letting me know.

Jessica Coleman

Friday 26th of June 2020

This is amazing! What do you do if the orange tree has sun damage?

Angela Judd

Saturday 27th of June 2020

Provide some shade if you can, if not make sure it's watered well. Many of my citrus trees end up with some by the end of summer. Usually the tree recovers. Don't prune or remove leaves, it will expose new leaves and branches to damage.