Southwestern Deserts

November, 2004
Regional Report

Thin Wildflowers

Wildflowers are germinating now with recent rains. Thin to a spacing of about 8 to 12 inches, depending on the mature size of the plant. You can try to gently lift and transplant into empty spaces, although wildflower seedlings tend to be fussy about being moved. An easy way to thin and not disturb the roots of others is to snip off seedlings at the base with a pair of scissors.

Plant a Quick Color Bowl

Spruce up your front entrance with a colorful planting. Cool-season flowers are in the nurseries right now, available in 4-inch pots, 6-packs or 1 gallon containers. Put the tall plants (snapdragons, geraniums, stocks, spikey foliage) in the middle, surrounded by lower growers (petunias, pansies, violas, marigolds). Use small trailing plants (alyssum, lobelia, ivy geraniums, wave petunias) to hang over and soften the edges. Add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil before planting to reduce feeding chores.

Plant Holiday Bulbs

Amaryllis and narcissus bulbs add festive color to the home during the holidays, and are easy-as-pie to grow. Packages come complete with a plastic pot, bag of soil mix, instructions and, of course, the bulbs.

Fertilize Roses

Feed roses once more before winter. Use a product geared for roses or flowering plants. Follow package instructions exactly. If using a granular product, water immediately after applying to prevent fertilizer burn. Add fresh mulch around the base of each shrub, but don't pile it right next to the stem.

Divide Offshoots

Separate overgrown aloe and agave that have sent out numerous "pups" or offshoots at the base. Carefully lift with a soil fork or shovel. Cut the attachment with a sharp knife or pruning tool. It's always a good idea to disinfect tools between cuts to prevent the spread of disease. Set the plants in a shady area with good air circulation to allow the cuts to callus and dry for a week. Then they can be replanted in the ground, or potted up as holiday gifts.

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