What to do in your Southwest garden in July
Thomas E. Eltzroth


Sow seeds of easy-to-grow chiltepin peppers early in the month. The tiny, fiery hot Southwestern natives are great for cooking and are appreciated by birds. Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co.: gurneys.com.

Try Guadalupe palm (Brahea edulis) for a striking medium-size landscape palm. It has a unique marked trunk and likes the desert heat.

At the beginning of monsoon season, sow seeds of Native American popcorn varieties such as red and brown ‘Cochiti’.

For late-summer blooms, set out rain lilies in the low-desert regions before monsoon rains. Zephyranthes carinata (often sold as Z. grandiflora) is a variety with extra-large pink flowers.

High summer (when average temperatures exceed 80°) is the best time to lay sod for warm-species turf like Bermuda grass. Good varieties for the low deserts include ‘BobSod’, ‘E-Z Turf Midiron’, ‘Santa Ana’, and ‘Tifway 419’.

For a free-blooming summer shrub, consider yellow bells cultivars such as Tecoma stans ‘Gold Star’ and T.s. ‘Sunrise’.​


Feed grapes and palms with an all-purpose fertilizer.

Give your houseplants a summer vacation outdoors. Place plants such as dracaena, Sansevieria varieties, and ficus trees under covered patios and other shaded spots.

Prune back tomatoes by two-thirds to encourage new growth and fruit set for fall.

Toward month’s end, pick the fruit of prickly pear cactus. Use tongs to twist the fruit away from pads. It should come off easily when ripe.


Use a systemic insecticide to avoid fatal infestations of the beetle known as agave weevil.

Keep birds and insects from eating ripening grapes with a simple organic trick: Slip knee-high nylon stockings over clusters and fasten with twist ties. The stockings allow air and sunlight penetration.