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  • Waterwise Gardening | David Salman

July Garden Tips

Helianthus, Agastache 'Ava' and Perovskia

Understanding the Late Summer/ Fall Garden

Pollinator friendly plants are why late summer and fall gardens can be more colorful than spring time with a stunning display of flowers and seed heads. Agastache (hummingbird mint), Salvia (Sage), Zauschneria (Hummingbird Trumpet or Fire Chalice) as well as gorgeous ornamental grasses like Muhlenbergia reverchonii (Ruby Muhly) and Panicum (Prairie Switch grass) are all wonderful additions to the waterwise landscape as a source of natural nectar for pollinators and stunning colors to please gardeners.

Planting to Fill In After Spring Bloomers

Many of us naturally buy what’s in flower when shopping for plants in the spring. But many perennials will only bloom for 3 to 4 weeks and go green for the rest of the growing season. So summer is a great time to go through your garden and identify where some summer and fall blooming plants can help to “color up” your garden. Hummingbird Mint (Agastache) , Sage (Salvia), Hummingbird Trumpet (Zauschneria), Ornamental Onion (Allium), Blanket Flower (Gaillardia), Tickseed (Coreopsis), Perennial Sunflower (Helianthus) and warm season ornamental grasses like Muhly grass (Muhlenbergia), Prairie Switch grass (Panicum), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium), Sacaton grass (Sporobolus) and others are all excellent summer/fall bloomers. All these plants and many more will be available at our August Pollinator Plant Sale Event.

Pulling Siberian Elm Seedlings and Saplings

Siberian elms provide valuable shade but are incredibly invasive trees spreading seeds far and wide every year. Mid-summer is a good time to seek out young seedlings and get rid of them. If the saplings are too large to pull them out, then cut them off at the base and paint (with a paint brush) some Fertilome Brush and Stump Killer on the cut to kill the roots. Otherwise, they will simply re-sprout and continue to grow. Elm seeds collect under bushes, clumps of ornamental grasses in the spring and germinate profusely where drip systems provide water for the cultivated plants (see photo). So start looking here and then move out into your yard in search of more elm volunteers. Especially hidden under chamisa and other native shrubs.

Keep on a Regular Watering schedule

Even though the monsoon rains have started, It’s important to keep on a regular watering schedule unless your property gets a soaking rain of ½” or more. Then you can delay irrigating for a week or so. But regular heavy rains are needed to restore deep soil moisture before irrigation can be reduced or stopped while the monsoon season is upon us.


Your spring blooming flowers have finished and it’s time to “deadhead” them. Do this by taking your clippers and cutting off the flowering stems where they push past the foliage at the base of the plant. Penstemon (Beardtongue) and Nepeta (Catmint) are a couple of perennials ready to deadhead now. Catmints are easily deadheaded by gathering together the flowering spikes and simply cutting off the whole bunch just above the foliage. They will re-bloom later this month with rains or a little extra irrigation.

Be sure to not cut off all the Penstemon’s seed heads. Leave a few on each plant to allow them to re-seed themselves. This will insure that your garden and landscape will always have some Penstemon growing there.

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