Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

January, 2002
Regional Report

Plant Holiday Amaryllis Bulbs

If you had a blooming amaryllis bulb from the holidays, allow its foliage to die back naturally. It is storing nutrients to the bulb for next year. Then plant outdoors in soil amended with plenty of organic matter. Choose a location that receives protection from the hot afternoon sun, such as an eastern exposure. The bulb should be about two inches below the soil line (not above as it is in the pot).

Fertilize Citrus Trees

Fertilize citrus trees in January or February with one-third of the tree's total annual nitrogen requirements. The amount depends on the tree's size and how many years it has been in the ground. A mature tree that has been planted 6 or more years requires about 1.5 pounds of actual nitrogen annually, so divide that amount by 3. Water thoroughly before and after applying fertilizer to prevent burn.

Prune Trees and Roses

Now is pruning time for non-native non-native deciduous shade trees, deciduous fruit trees (apple, peach, apricot), grapes and roses. Don\'t prune native trees now or you will lose their bloom. Prune after bloom in late spring or summer. Wait until all chance of frost is past before pruning tropicals such as bougainvillea and hibiscus. Pruning stimulates tender new growth, which is susceptible to frost damage.

Grow Herbs

Many herbs can be sown at this time of year, such as cilantro, parsley, dill, borage, chamomile, chives, garlic chives and thyme. Lavender and rosemary are more easily grown from transplants. Plant in full sun. Soil should be somewhat improved with organic matter, but most herbs do not require as rich a soil as vegetables do. However, they must have excellent drainage. Few will survive wet feet!

Harvest Citrus

Most citrus are ripe now, with the exception of Valencia oranges, which usually start ripening in February. The best method to determine if the fruit is sweet is your own taste-test. The longer fruit stays on the tree, the sweeter it becomes. It will not sweeten after being picked. If you can't eat all of your fruit, consider donating it to a food bank.


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