Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

April, 2010
Regional Report

Recognize 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.

Transplant 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.

Control Cacti Size

Cacti 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 Blossom End Rot

Blossom-end rot may show up on tomatoes in spring. It appears as a bruised-looking spot on the blossom end of the fruit. It's probably caused by uneven watering and a calcium deficiency. Prevent this problem by watering slowly and deeply to a depth of 1 foot, maintaining even soil moisture with mulch, and applying gypsum as a calcium source.

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 spent flowers into the compost pile.


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