Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

February, 2007
Regional Report

Watch the Rain

Winter rains have been scarce but we have enjoyed some precipitation recently. Watch where rainwater naturally flows on your landscape, and make a note of it. Consider incorporating rainwater harvesting methods, such as swales, into your landscape design. Keep that healthy rain on your property, rather than allowing it to run off into storm drains.

Don't Overwater

Plants don't use as much water in winter as they do in summer. After rains, cold and wet soil adds up to root rot. Check soil moisture before automatically watering on a pre-set schedule. You may be able to skip an irrigation or two.

Plant Bare-Root Roses

Soak bare-root roses in water for a few hours or overnight before transplanting to ensure the plant is hydrated. In the meantime, dig a hole 18 to 30 inches wide and deep in a spot that receives 6 to 8 hours of sun daily. Protection from hot afternoon sun is a plus. Mix nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer in the bottom of the hole, following package instructions for amounts. Amend the backfill generously (about half) with compost or well-decomposed manure. Make a raised cone of soil in the bottom of the hole and spread the roots over it. This helps roots grow outwards through the soil, rather than wrap around themselves. Be sure the bud union is 2 inches above the soil line.

Feed Containers

The frequent watering required by container plants quickly washes away nutrients, and plants can't send their roots very far to seek more. Use a regular fertilizing schedule according to package instructions or water with compost tea.

Weed Wildflowers

After the rains, weeds will sprout like crazy. Be sure to keep them out of wildflower beds or they will choke out the desireable seedlings. Toss weeds into the compost pile as a source of nitrogen.


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