Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

May, 2004
Regional Report

Increase Watering Frequency

Change automatic timers to run more frequently. Continue to apply the same amount of water. Water should soak 1 foot deep for small plants, 2 feet deep for shrubs, and 3 feet deep for trees. Watch plants for signs of water stress, such as wrinkling, wilting, or yellowing.

Water Deciduous Fruit Trees

Apricot, apple, peach, and other deciduous fruit trees are sizing up fruit. A regular supply of water is essential for good fruit production. Water should soak 3 feet deep and be applied at and beyond the dripline, or canopy edge. Thin fruit to a 6-inch spacing, which will create larger fruit. You\'re not wasting fruit, as a tree can\'t support all of the fruit that it sets.

Fertilize Citrus

If you didn't do so last month, apply one-third of the tree's total annual nitrogen requirement now. Water the tree well the day before and immediately after applying to help the fertilizer soak into the soil and to prevent fertilizer burn. An easy way to apply granular fertilizer is to mix it in a bucket of water and pour it into the watering well that surrounds the tree.

Prune Heritage Roses

Prune once-blooming old garden or heritage roses after spring flowering. These roses bloom on year-old or older wood, so pruning now develops wood for next year's blooms. Use sharp bypass pruners, which work with a scissors action. If any disease is suspected, sterilize pruners between cuts. Sterilize between shrubs regardless. Seal all pruning cuts with wood glue to prevent cane borers from entering.

Plant Bermuda Lawns

Bermuda can be planted after soil temperatures warm. This is mid-May in the low desert, such as Phoenix; or mid-June at slightly higher elevation deserts, such as Tucson. Seed lawns with common or improved bermuda. Hybrid bermuda is available as sod. Whether seeding or sodding, improve the soil first. Loosen to a depth of 6 to 8 inches to allow easier root penetration and good drainage. Mix in 2 to 3 inches of organic matter, such as compost.


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