Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

December, 2000
Regional Report

Plant Bare-Root Roses

To plant bare-root roses, dig a hole that is about 2 feet by 2 feet in diameter. Amend the backfill with generous amounts of compost. Put a couple of shovelfuls of backfill into the hole and form a cone shape with it. Spread the roots of the rose bush over this cone to help them grow out into the surrounding soil and not tangle around each other. Before filling in the hole, make sure that the bud union, a slightly raised bump on the main trunk where the rose variety was grafted onto the rootstock, is several inches above the soil line.

Plant Bare-Root Fruit Trees

Plant bare-root deciduous fruit trees such as apples, apricots, and peaches now. These trees require a certain number of chilling hours to set and bear fruit. The low desert doesn\'t provide enough cold weather for many deciduous fruits to thrive, so select varieties that require fewer than 400 hours of chilling - between 250 and 300 is even better.

Provide Frost Protection

Monitor weather forecasts for freezing temperatures, which can occur this time of year in the desert. Wrap young citrus tree trunks with burlap and leave it on until temperatures start to warm up in late February. Protect cold-sensitive tropicals such as hibiscus, natal plum, and lantana with old sheets, burlap, or frost cloth. Remove coverings in the morning before temperatures rise, so that plants don\'t \"cook\" in the mini-greenhouse you\'ve created.

Maintain Winter Lawns

Water Bermuda grass lawns every 5 to 10 days, depending on such variables as your soil conditions, temperature, and rainfall. Water should penetrate 4-6 inches deep. Fertilize monthly with a nitrate form of fertilizer such as ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate, or calcium nitrate. Use 1/4 pound per 1,000 square feet of lawn.

Make Mulch from Christmas Trees

Many cities provide convenient drop-off points to recycle Christmas trees at the end of the holidays. The trees are run through giant chipper-shredders to make mulch to be used in parks and for community landscaping. It's a great way to give these trees back to the earth and save space at the landfills.


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