Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

April, 2009
Regional Report

Maintain Bulb Beds

Allow foliage to brown and die back naturally, as it is helping the bulb to store energy for next year's growth. It's okay to cut back spent flower stalks. Apply fresh mulch on top of the bulb bed. It helps maintain soil moisture through the summer and as it decomposes, adds nutrients to the soil. Place markers if you need help remembering where bulbs are so you don't inadvertently dig them up!

Monitor Containers

As temperatures warm, container plants need more attention. Water when the top inch or so of soil is dry. The plants will need more frequent fertilizer applications, as more watering will wash away the nutrients available. Follow package instructions for the type of fertilizer you use. Organic fertilizers and slow-release products work well for containers because they are released over a longer period of time. Allow water to drain out the bottom of the pot, leaching away accumulated salts. As summer approaches, you may need to move containers out of full sun into morning sun/afternoon shade locales.

Continue Transplanting

Native and desert-adapted trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, cacti, succulents and perennials can still be planted but the sooner they get in the ground to establish root systems before the heat of summer, the better. Dig holes that are 3 to 5 times the width of the container and the same depth. A wide hole allows the plant roots to more easily expand through the soil. Don't apply fertilizer for at least one year after planting. Most native plants won't require any fertilizer, as they are well adapted to our growing conditions.

Plant Annual Color

Sow flowers that take sun, such as blanketflower, black-eyed Susan, cosmos, four o'clocks, globe amaranth, portulaca, sunflower, tithonia and zinna. Transplant celosia, pentas, salvias, and vinca.

Transplant Dwarf Citrus

For small yards or reduced maintenance, choose dwarf citrus trees grafted onto 'Flying Dragon' rootstock. Dwarf varieties grow 10 to 12 feet tall and 9 to 11 feet wide and produce about 50 to 60 percent less fruit, which is still plenty for most families. Make sure the tag lists the rootstock so you don't end up with a full-size tree.


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