Ask a Question forum→Fertilizer for plants in desert southwest gardens

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Buckeye Arizona
May 8, 2020 8:17 AM CST
Gardening in the desert southwest (NW of Phoenix) and I just read the very helpful article on fertilizer brands. I have been using Osmocote, Fish Emulsion, Foliar Feed (Spray & Grow) and Epsom Salts.
The slow release fertilizer seems to stop working with high temps. We are still in Spring and temps in the 100 -108. I then leave for the summer for 5 months. Looking for slow release brand names that won't evaporate in 1-2 months.
Any help is appreciated, thank you.
Southwest U.S. (Zone 7a)
May 8, 2020 9:14 AM CST
It's generally not necessary to fertilize landscape plants, unless they are showing signs of nutrient deficiency. Here's a link to a good article, Arizona focused:

In the low desert, most plants become dormant with the summer heat, and don't need any fertilizing at that time. Problems you see in the summer are most likely from the heat, rather than from the fertilizer "not working". Native plants do better without any fertilizer. Ever.
If your plants are looking poorly in the summer heat, you might try increasing their watering, rather than fertilizing. A long, deep soak into the root zone might be helpful.
If you feel like you must "feed" your plants (which, again, is usually unnecessary and possibly detrimental), do it during the Spring and Fall, when the weather is cooler and the plants are growing. Plants can store enough nutrients to carry them through their dormant periods.
Low desert gardening is challenging, but the problem is usually not a lack of fertilizer.
Name: Baja
Baja California (Zone 11b)
Cactus and Succulents Seed Starter Foliage Fan Xeriscape Container Gardener Hummingbirder
Native Plants and Wildflowers Garden Photography Region: Mexico Plant Identifier Forum moderator Plant Database Moderator
May 8, 2020 9:23 AM CST
What are the plants involved?
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
May 8, 2020 10:04 AM CST
Osmocote is a bad choice for desert gardens as the waxy shell on the capsules melts in the heat. Its not that it stops working but rather, it works all at once. If you want slow release in the heat, use Dynamite. But, why all those different kinds of fertilizers? Use one and be done.

Skip the Epsom Salt, its not helping and may be detrimental.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada

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