Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

December, 2001
Regional Report

Recycle Christmas Trees

After the holiday season, check with your city for locations to drop off Christmas trees, both live and dead. Many cities will accept live trees for planting in parks or along right-of-ways, or will mulch dead trees and give the chipped matter to residents or use it around public plantings. Check with your city parks department or waste/sanitation department to see what is offered.

Monitor Weather Forecasts

Even the low desert gets hit by frost. Be prepared to protect frost-tender plants, such as citrus, lantana, bougainvillea and hibiscus. Cover with burlap, old sheets or frost cloth. Let the cover drape all the way to the ground, to capture heat radiating from the earth under the cloth. Remove it in the morning before temperatures heat up to prevent plants from breaking dormancy under the warm "tent" you have created.

Buy Plants!

Watch for after-holiday sales of amaryllis and paperwhite bulbs. There's still plenty of time to force them indoors for spring bloom. The amaryllis may be sprouting a bloom stalk already. Buy bareroot roses even if you don't have time to immediately dig planting holes. They are arriving in nurseries, so get them while the selection is good. Make sure the roots stay wrapped in moist sawdust or peat moss until you plant. Bareroot roses can be planted through February in the low desert.

Plant Cool-Season Vegetables

Continue succession sowing cool-season lettuces, greens and root crops. Transplant or sow cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Asparagus roots can be transplanted now. Plant vegetables where they will receive 6 to 8 hours of sun daily.

Monitor Bulb Beds

Many bulbs planted in the fall should be poking foliage up by now. Make sure soil stays somewhat moist, but not overly wet. Pull winter weeds immediately so they don\'t compete. Apply a balanced fertilizer if foliage appears yellow. Layer 2 to 3 inches of mulch, or sow a low-grower such as alyssum around the \"feet\" of your bulbs.


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