Your July Planting Must-Haves

July is a time for gardeners to maximize harvests from their beds and prepare for the seasons ahead. It may seem late for plantings of new crops, but many varieties can thrive with plantings made now, especially in zones with extended growing seasons. Here are ten crops highly recommended for planting in July, along with essential tips and strategies for a successful garden.

1. Salvia

Salvia, with its beautiful floral colors, would make a perfect ornamental plant to be put up in your garden to attract pollinators. It is perennial in zones eight and above, meaning it will return year after year. For colder climates, grow it in pots and bring it indoors in winter. Regular pruning keeps it in shape and encourages more flowers.

2. Corn

Modern corn varieties grow much taller than knee-high by that time, says the adage. To avoid cross-pollination between different types of corn, stagger planting times or maintain physical distance between them. By July, plant corn to ensure a harvest at the end of the growing season if there are three more months of warm weather.

3. Arugula

Arugula is a cool-season crop and may still be grown in July with some adaptations. Cultivate in some shade or use shade cloth to protect plants from intense sun. An alternative is growing arugula indoors under grow lights. Ensure the soil remains evenly moist to help the plant produce a strong flush of top growth.

4. Pumpkins

Gardeners in the Southeast should be considering planting pumpkins for fall harvest starting in July. Seed should be planted one inch deep into the soil and put in the full sun within a well-drained, rich soil. A few good selections include jack-o-lantern pumpkins or disease-resistant types like the Bulldog pumpkin.

5. Brassicas (Cauliflower, Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts)

Sowing brassica seeds in late July allows the plants to establish well before transplanting in September. Most crops of this family do well during cool weather, and starting them early ensures bountiful harvests of stuff like Twister cauliflower and Burgundy broccoli.

6. Flowers: Cosmos, Chocolate Flower and Coreopsis

Planting cosmos, chocolate flowers, coreopsis, and other flowers in July will add to the beauty of the garden and will attract beneficial insects to the garden. Drought- and heat-tolerant flowers are also safe for midsummer planting; ensure they get light to germinate by not burying the seeds too deep.

7. Zucchini

Succession planting of zucchini ensures continuous production. Start the second round in July if the first round has matured. Varieties such as round zucchinis—which have an approximate maturity of 45 days—are a good fit for a second crop before the first frost.

8. Eggplants

In the case of Florida, sow the seeds of eggplants toward the end of July. Protect the young seedlings with shade cloth water the soil regularly until established, and then move them to a bright area with good air circulation. A long, hot-weather crop variety is Long Purple.

9. Cucumbers

Consider planting a second round of cucumbers using varieties with fewer days to maturity. With direct sown crops, cucumbers may also be transplanted to achieve a jump in the season. Spacemaster 80 and Homemade Pickles are suitable varieties that may also be harvested before the season closes out.

10. Summer Squash

It's still not too late to put in some summer squash, which can help avoid a pest like the squash vine borer. By then, they stop laying eggs in the middle of August, and the new plants will be well on their way to providing a bumper, healthy harvest. Great ones to include are 'Black Beauty' zucchinis and Patty Pan squashes.

This might be late for many people, but July is a fabulous time to plant all kinds of different crops that can still have time to yield before the first frost. With a proper selection of plant varieties and gardening strategy, you shall maximize your effort in this summer garden, enjoying produce well through fall.