Southwestern Deserts

January, 2005
Regional Report

Watch for Signs of Nutrient Deficiency

Nitrogen deficiency shows as older, lower leaves yellowing. Iron deficiency appears as yellowing leaves with obvious green veins. Annual flowers and vegetables expend a lot of energy to complete their life cycle and may need a boost of fertilizer. Most desert-adapted trees and shrubs don\'t need any.

Maintain Bulb Beds

Watch for green shoots of spring-blooming bulbs to poke through the soil. If rains are inadequate, irrigate slowly to a depth of about 12 inches, but don\'t let soil get too wet or bulbs may rot. Apply a layer of organic compost to maintain soil moisture and to add nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.

Plant Bareroot Roses

Choose a spot that receives 6 to 8 hours of sun daily. Protection from hot afternoon sun is ideal. Dig a hole 18 to 30 inches deep and wide. Mix a fertilizer containing nitrogen and phosphorus in the bottom of the hole according to package instructions. Amend the backfill with half compost. Before planting, soak the bareroot rose in a bucket of water overnight to hydrate it. Plant so the bud union is 2 inches above the soil line.

Maintain Wildflower Beds

If rains are adequate, no additional watering may be needed. Wildflowers survive nicely without excessive irrigation, so don\'t overwater. Thin as needed to a spacing of 8 to 12 inches. Pull weeds as soon as possible so they don\'t gain a toehold amongst the desirable flowers.

Water Winter Lawns

Water to a depth of 4 to 6 inches for winter ryegrass, which has a more shallow root system than Bermuda. Water every 5 to 10 days, depending on rainfall, soil conditions, and weather. For dormant Bermuda, water once a month to a depth of 8 to 10 inches.

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