Southwestern Deserts

October, 2004
Regional Report

Save Seeds

Save seeds from non-hybrids for sowing next year. (Hybrid plants will not return "true" to the parent plant.) Hold a paper bag or container beneath drying seed heads and gently tap them. Seeds that are dry will fall out. Or, clip entire seed heads into a paper bag and let them continue drying. When seeds are completely dry, remove all chaff and store in a cool, dark place. Be sure to mark the container so you know what you have next year!

Clean Up Summer Garden Beds

Pull spent, warm-season flowers and vegetables, chop them into smaller pieces, and put them in the compost. If they show signs of insects or disease, dispose of them in the trash. Add a fresh, 4- to 6-inch layer of compost or other aged organic matter to the garden.

Examine Agaves

Watch agaves for signs of rotting and collapse. This very obvious signal shows they\'ve been attacked by agave weevils and must be completely dug and put in the trash. Dig through soil to expose any of the larvae. Monitor nearby agaves as the weevils spread readily.

Prepare Holiday Plants

Put Christmas cacti and poinsettias where they will be in complete darkness for 12 to 14 hours daily for the next two months. Place a cardboard box over them in a closet, for example. Remove it during the day. This period of darkness promotes bloom set. When the top of the soil is dry, water deeply. Use a phosphorus fertilizer to encourage flowering.

Fertilize Roses

Scratch granular fertilizer into the soil at the edge of the shrub's canopy (dripline) and water it in immediately. Use a product formulated for roses or blooming plants. Follow package instructions exactly.

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