15 Aug MIDSUMMER PLANTING
July and August are not the easiest months to garden — while it’s hot and uncomfortable for you, it’s even worse for your plants! As a landscape designer living in USDA Zone 8b, we can in theory plant all year round, but I’ve developed some strategies for planting in midsummer that help the plants survive. Here are my Do’s and Don’ts for midsummer planting to help both you and your garden!
Do know your area’s average first frost and first killing freeze. With this date, you can count backwards to know if you have time to plant more tomatoes or flowers. On each plant’s label, look for number of days to harvest, and that will be the number you count back from the first annual frost.
Do know what plants are recommended for planting in your area, and stick with those. Native plants are even better, because they are adapted to the temperatures, soil, and growing conditions where you live.
Do plant early in the morning, before the heat sets in.
Do water thoroughly after planting, and regularly for two weeks (or more) to help the plant’s roots establish.
Don’t plant on days when the mercury is forecast to soar over 100 degrees, unless you’re planting something like an agave. Trust me — there’s a difference between upper 90’s and over 100 degrees, and your plants can tell the difference, too.
Don’t even attempt to plant a tree or large shrub during this time — the higher temperatures cause undue stress on a plant that large, and they will have a difficult time getting established.
Don’t forget to consider shade cloth in the veggie garden — plants like peppers really appreciate some protection from the harsh midsummer sun.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself as well! Wear a mineral (rather than chemical) sunscreen, long sleeves, and a wide-brimmed hat for skin protection, and keep a water bottle handy to stay hydrated.