Southwestern Deserts

February, 2008
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Prickly Pear
'Baby Rita' prickly pear (Opuntia basalaris 'Baby Rita') is positively cute. Small, chubby pads in thick clusters are covered with pink flowers in spring. Pads are tinged with purple, intensifying during cold weather. The clump grows about 8 inches tall and spreads 2 feet, thus it is a good prickly pear for smaller gardens. It's easy to grow but it must have good soil drainage. 'Baby Rita' takes full sun and is hardy to 0 degrees F.

Clever Gardening Technique

Visit Nurseries and Botanic Gardens
During cold weather, visit nurseries and public gardens to see firsthand how color variations may add an interesting element to your winter landscape. Since not all plants will respond to cold in the same way, you might find a specimen at a nursery that really showcases intense color change. Even if you don't plant it until spring, buy it while you can!

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