Southwestern Deserts

February, 2005
Regional Report

Divide Herbs

Divide overgrown clumps of chives, garlic chives, lemon balm, lemon grass, oregano, mint, tansy and yarrow. Dig entire clumps and gently separate sections, or cut through edges of a clump with a sharp tool, leaving the mature plant in its original place. Plant herbs in a sunny location with good drainage. Herbs tend to suffer from root rot if soil stays too wet.

Care for Roses

Finish pruning by mid-month. Clean up all litter and spread several inches of fresh organic mulch around the base of plants. Roses like consistent soil moisture, and mulch will help maintain it. Begin feeding with nitrogen and phosphorus to prepare shrubs for peak bloom in April and May. If using a granular fertilizer, water it in well immediately after application.

View Wildflowers

Anticipation is building for a tremendous year of wildflower viewing after a winter of consistent rains. Polish up those camera lenses, pack a picnic and head out to view lupines, penstemons, poppies, blue bells, owls clover, brittle bush, and more. Not sure where to go? Many botanical gardens and arboreta offer hotlines that detail where flowers are blooming locally.

Sow Basil

Start basil indoors to plant outside next month after all danger of frost is over. Use a sterile potting mix and place in a warm location. Barely cover the tiny seeds with soil. Keep soil consistently moist until seeds germinate. Basil usually germinates fairly quickly in warm soil. If it's cold in your house, germination may take longer.

Deadhead Flowers

Remove spent flowers to prolong bloom periods. Otherwise, the plant will start expending its energy on seed production rather than more flowers. Pinch off dead blooms with your fingers or clip them with scissors. Toss the spent flowers in the compost pile.

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