• Annuals. Take advantage of nurseries’ wide selection ofbedding plants this month and set out heat lovers such as ageratum,celosia, dahlia, gomphrena, marigolds, pentas, petunia, portulaca,salvia, sunflowers, verbena, vinca, and zinnia. Or start cosmos,marigolds, sunflowers, and zinnia from seed; they germinate quicklyin warm weather and are easy to grow.
• Shade plants. The soil near walls in northern and easternexposures is now warm enough for planting. For perennial color, tryabutilon, clivia, fuchsia, hydrangea, and Plectranthus. In coastal areas, also consider shrubbybegonias like B. fuchsioides; some bloom nearly nonstop. For foliageinterest, choose from ferns, Japanese aralia, Japanese forestgrass, lamium, ligularia, liriope, and wild ginger (Asarum caudatum).
• Subtropicals. In frost-free areas, plant fruit trees such asavocado, citrus, cherimoya, mango; flowering ornamental trees likebauhinia, crape myrtle, jacaranda, and tabebuia; or ornamentalshrubs like hibiscus and princess flower. In colder climates,indulge in colorful foliage plants like Acalypha, bloodleaf (Iresine), coleus, and Persian shield (Strobilanthes); they’ll bloom well into fall.
• Vegetables. Sunset climate zones 7-9, 14-24: Set out transplants ofcucumbers, eggplant (except zones 17-24), melon, peppers, andtomatoes. Sow bean seeds; a new favorite in the Sunset test garden is ‘Musica’, a Romano-type pole bean thatis meaty, tasty, and extremely productive. For information andsources for this and other beans, see “Best Beans”. Also sow seeds of corn, cucumber, okra,pumpkin, and summer and winter squash. In the high desert (zone11), sow seeds of corn, cucumber, melon, summer and winter squash,and watermelon.
• Feed actively growing plants. Roses, warm-season lawns,annual flowers and vegetables, and just about everything elsethat’s actively growing in the garden will benefit from fertilizingnow. But don’t feed natives or Mediterraneans; they’re entering adormant period.
• Heat up tomatoes. A cool summer can make it difficult togrow tomatoes, especially along the coast. To improve your cropyield, try growing plants in large black plastic containers or inold tires along south- or west-facing walls. Also trim away some ofthe lower leaves so that sunlight can reach the soil moreeasily.
• Treat iron deficiencies. Azaleas, camellias, citrus,gardenias, and hibiscus that exhibit yellowish leaves with greenveins at this time of year are probably suffering from irondeficiency. To correct it, apply chelated iron, either as a foliarspray or as a soil drench.
• Powdery mildew. Those foggy days known as “June Gloom”create ideal conditions for powdery mildew on roses, especiallyalong the coast. Combat this fungus disease by hosing off foliagein the morning to cleanse roses of spores. You can also use acommercial fungicide or neem oil-based product. Or mix up this homeremedy: Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, 1 1/2 tablespoonsbaking soda, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon milddishwashing detergent (without ammonia). Add to 1 gallon of waterand spray leaves well.