Southwestern Deserts

September, 2003
Regional Report

Harvest Prickly Pear Fruit

Fruit is ripening and can be harvested to make jelly, but of course the spines and glochids have to be reckoned with. It's fun to watch the cactus wrens flit around among the pads while they peck at the fruit, oblivious to all the sharp pointy objects.

Plant Palm Trees

Palms are one of the few plants that actually thrive when transplanted in summer's heat. Be sure to choose a variety whose mature size will fit your space, especially overhead (watch for utility lines), as pruning back palms is not recommended. Keep soil moist until temperatures start to cool. Do not fertilize for the first year.

Plan for Fall

Ready yourself for fall planting. To help narrow the choices, decide what you want from a plant, such as shade or attracting birds. Next, determine what sun exposure and space your landscape offers to the plant. It's important that the plant has room to reach its mature size without unnecessary pruning to keep it in bounds. Then choose plants that match your desires and landscape conditions.

Deadhead Annual Flowers

Cut off spent blooms on annual warm-season flowers to prolong the blooming period. This practice causes the plant to continue flower production rather than spend its energy on seed production.

Care for Succulents

Monitor cacti and other succulents for signs of water stress, such as yellowing, wrinkling, or shrinking tissue. If summer rains are adequate, you may not need to water. If not, water should soak to a depth of one foot for succulents, as their root systems are typically shallow. Native cacti usually benefit from watering about once a month during summer; other succulents such as agaves, aloes, and euphorbias, need more frequent water, every one to two weeks.

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