Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

April, 2011
Regional Report

Transplant Citrus

Choose varieties that mature at different times to extend the harvest season. For example, 'Marrs' sweet orange ripens from late October to early February; 'Lane Late' navel from January through March; and 'Campbell' valencia from February through May.

Inhibit Leafhoppers

If you've had curly top virus on tomatoes in previous years, cover your plants with a floating row cover to keep leafhoppers from feeding on them and spreading the disease. Although they may get beneath the row cover, leafhoppers don't like shade and soon move elsewhere.

Prepare Lawns for Warm Weather

Mow overseeded ryegrass lawns progressively lower to one half-inch in height to transition to summer Bermuda grass. Apply a 21-7-14 fertilizer at a rate of 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet to your Bermuda grass lawn once every month, whether or not you overseeded with ryegrass. Water lawns immediately after applying fertilizer. In spring, overseeded lawns should be watered no more than every 3 to 5 days and non-overseeded lawns every 5 to 7 days, depending on soil and weather conditions.

Remove Frost Damage

It's safe to trim frost-damaged tropicals such as bougainvillea, ficus, hibiscus, lantana and Natal plum. Cut back dead plant material to the first new green growth that is emerging. Disinfect pruners between plants to prevent the spread of disease by wiping blades with a weak bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water).

Clean Up Citrus Trees

Prune only dead, frost-damaged citrus branches or other damaged, weak, or crossing branches. It's important not to overprune, which removes too much foliage, exposing vulnerable trunk tissue. Citrus is susceptible to sunburn, which causes bark to peel and split, opening up wounds that allow pests and diseases to enter. Paint exposed trunk bark with white latex paint formulated for this purpose.


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