Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

December, 2003
Regional Report

Water Christmas Trees

Keep both live and cut trees well-watered while indoors to reduce needle drying and drop. Dry trees are a fire hazard. Leave live trees in their containers. Place outdoors in a spot that is sheltered from wind. If freezing temperatures are predicted, protect the tree with burlap or frost cloth. Transplant in late winter/early spring.

Take Care of Holiday Bloomers

Maintain consistent soil moisture for poinsettia, Christmas cactus, and amaryllis. Remove any decorative foil so water doesn't accumulate and drown the roots. Put in a bright or sunny location but keep away from heating units or drafty windows and doors. Use an all-purpose houseplant fertilizer every two weeks.

Continue Cool-Season Veggie Planting

Transplant members of the cabbage family, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. Sow seeds for leafy greens, such as lettuces, spinach, mustard, and collard greens; and root crops, such as beets, carrots, radishes, and turnips. Note that seeds may be slower to germinate in cool soil than they were earlier in the season.

Protect Tender Plants from Frost

Sub-tropical and tropical plants, such as bougainvillea, hibiscus, natal plum, citrus, and annual flowers and vegetables are susceptible to frost damage in the low desert. Monitor forecasts and cover plants before sundown as needed. Remove the covering before the sun heats up the next day.

Taste Test Citrus

Navel and sweet oranges are ripening, as are mandarins, tangelos, and some grapefruit. Rind color is not a reliable indicator of sweetness, so taste test. The longer fruit stays on the tree, the sweeter it becomes.


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