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July in your Hot, Dry Container Garden

Think Positively – You Can Grow Beautiful Pots even in the hot summer

Summer Potted Desert Flowers

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To Do In Your Pots This Month

1. Garden and water in the very early mornings.

Who wants to be out in the heat?

2. Increase watering frequency to be sure pots don’t dry out.

You want your pots to be damp throughout.

3. Deadhead your spent flowers weekly to encourage new buds

Doing this weekly makes it be less of a chore.

4. Avoid pruning plants now that the desert has heated up.

Pruning now leads to sunburn by exposing previously shaded stems.

5. Keep up with bi-weekly pot fertilizing with a water-soluble fertilizer.

Be sure the soil is already damp before applying fertilizer.


Special notes on roses (From the Rose Society of Tucson)Healthy rose blooms (2)

Water, water, water: 

  • As temperatures remain above 100 degrees, water potted roses daily.
  • New potted roses may need water twice a day
  • NEW RECOMMENDATION: Water late in the afternoon after 6 p.m. during this time of year which allows for less evaporation
  • Place potted roses in an area that gets afternoon shade

Spray off your roses daily with water: The No.1 enemy of roses during the summer in hot and dry climates are spider mites. Spider mites, which look like small salt-and-pepper particles under leaves, will suck the leaves dry until they turn light brown and fall off. Keeping as much foliage on your plants is crucial to rose health during the summer.Every morning, spray off your roses with a jet of water supplied by a nozzle  attached to your water hose. YMake sure you spray underneath the leaves of the plant. By doing this daily, this will prevent spider mites from getting started. The added benefit is adding humidity to your garden which is vital in arid summer conditions.

Do not deadhead or remove dead leaves during the heat. Every bit of added shade helps.



  1. Leslie Kanberg on at

    Hi, Marylee,
    My large AZ bell bush is looking pretty leggy & sparse, but there is new growth close to the base. Given the harsh sunlight & heat, when should I plan to prune it back?
    Thank you,

    • You don’t want to cut anything back until the temperatures are in the low 90’s to upper 80’s with some hopeful afternoon cloud cover. You might even see some new growth when the monsoons come in, above where you think it is dead. Unfortunately patience is needed here. Hang in there and make sure it is getting deep water.

  2. Cathleen Becskehazy on at

    Appreciating all your advice, I look forward to it and try to follow it as best I can.
    Even with watering and filtered light, my nasturtiums have died. The record breaking heat is simply awful, killing plants and draining all my energy.

    • Hi Cathleen,
      I tried to email you but the email address in your comment failed. I am sorry that the heat is draining you as well as your plants. The Nasturtiums however are really considered winter annuals so they will be toast in your hot dry climate. Remove anything that is dying or dead, keep the rest watered and wait until September to fill in the bare spots with some shoulder season annuals such as petunias and snapdragons. In the meantime, try to accept that this is how it is in the desert, stay hydrated and treat yourself to cool and restful activities.
      Hang in there! (Personally I recommend ice cream. :))

  3. Sharon Morey on at

    Having trouble getting my figs and kumquat to set fruit. If figs do set fruit, they drop off before maturing. The kumquat had a lot of bloom and the bees were all over it. However, I do not see any fruit setting on. The kumquat is in a huge pot (we just put it in last Feb. and gets watered every other day for 1 hour. The figs are in the ground
    and get watered on the same schedule as the kumquat.
    We a considering setting the water schedule to everyday, during the heat, but only for 30 minutes each day.
    Both are fertilized according to the fruit tree instructions. And, the fertilizer is watered in following application.
    What are we doing wrong that the fruit is not behaving as hoped.
    I receive your emails on a regular basis. Thank you for your insight.

    • Hi Sharon! Thanks for writing. I am not a fruit specialist but I have heard that this year with the early intense heat the figs and citrus are not fruiting as they normally do. Plants are pretty smart and if they sense that weather conditions are not going to allow them to care for their ‘young’ so to speak, they will not create as many fruits. That is a long time to run a pot on irrigation but it depends on what kind of emitter(s) you are using. You want to be sure that the area where the roots are is not drying out. And moist soil is cooler soil.

      Depending on the size of the fig tree I would be concerned that it is not getting enough water. You could change the irrigation to 90 minutes every three days and then water the potted kumquat by hand for a few minutes on the other days.

      Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes!

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