Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

April, 2001
Regional Report

Prune Cacti

Cactus that grow in sections, such as prickly pear, cholla, and hedgehog, can be easily controlled if their size is getting out of hand. Remove the new growth now while it's still small and tender. Slice the new growth off at the joint with a sharp knife or pruners. Use a pair of kitchen tongs to steady the sections while cutting.

Control Citrus Thrips

As citrus trees begin to flower, you may notice new leaves beginning to twist. This is caused by a tiny insect called a thrips. Thrips are barely visible, but if you shake some blossoms over a piece of white paper, you may see what resembles slivers of wood. Thrips scar the fruit and cause leaves to curl, but the damage is cosmetic only. Trees don't need spraying.

Deadhead Flowers

Snip off spent blossoms on cool-season annuals such as pansies and violas to prolong their bloom period as long as possible. Deadheading stops the plant from sending energy into seed production at the expense of flowers. Toss the flowers into the compost pile.

Plant Landscape Plants

Continue planting native and desert-adapted landscape trees, shrubs, ground covers, perennials, and vines, which will withstand heat and sun with less stress. Layer several inches of mulch around the base of plants after transplanting to maintain soil moisture and reduce soil temperatures and weed germination. Keep soil moist (but not overly wet) until root systems are established.

Sow Warm-Season Annuals

Begin sowing seeds for flowers that thrive in the summer such as sunflowers, tithonia, zinnia, amaranth, marigolds, portulaca, vinca, and gaillardia. You can direct-sow these seeds into warm soil or sow them indoors for transplanting out after cool-season annuals are spent and pulled up.


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