Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

August, 2004
Regional Report

Water Citrus

Citrus trees need sufficient water to produce a viable crop. Water trees that have been planted one year or less every 5 to 7 days; trees that have been planted one to two years, every 7 to 10 days; and trees three years or older, every 10 to 14 days. Apply water at the dripline (canopy edge) where feeder roots can absorb it. Water should soak 3 feet deep.

Provide Shade

Erect temporary shade covers for vegetables that you want to coax into fall production, such as tomatoes and peppers. Also cover aloe and other succulents, which do better with protection from hot afternoon sun. Move container plants into a spot that has afternoon shade.

Deadhead Flowers

Snip spent blossoms from summer-blooming annuals to encourage a longer flowering period. Toss the trimmings into the compost pile.

Maintain Summer Lawns

Water every 2 to 3 days in the low desert when temperatures remain over 90 degrees F. Higher elevations may be able to extend the period between watering. Water should soak 8 to 10 inches deep for Bermuda to wet the entire root area. To determine how far water soaks, use a long screwdriver or other pointed object as a probe. It will move easily through moist soil and stop at dry, hard soil. Fertilize monthly with a NPK ratio of 3-1-2, such as 21-7-14. Water well immediately after applying.

Water Appropriately

Monitor plants for signs of water stress. Stress shows as yellowing, browning, drooping, or curling. Cacti and succulents may appear wrinkled or shriveled. Plants with large leaves, such as squash, melons, cukes and gourds, may wilt by afternoon. Their large leaf surfaces transpire more water than roots can absorb, so foliage wilts even when sufficient water is available in the soil. Wait until morning because foliage may recover in the night. If wilt is still present, add water. If monsoons are heavy, it may be possible to skip a watering cycle, especially for lawns.


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