Southwestern Deserts

April, 2005
Regional Report

Water Containers Efficiently

Containers need frequent watering as plant roots can't expand into the surrounding soil to meet their needs. How often to water depends on the types of plants and the weather. Vegetable and flower containers in full sun generally need watering two to four times per week in spring, increasing to daily watering in the summer. Don't let water sit in saucers to be reabsorbed, as it contains salts that can damage roots and even kill the plant over time.

Fertilize Containers

Use a slow-release fertilizer when planting according to package instructions. Most last at least three months, with some up to nine months. However, their effectiveness may be reduced by frequent watering in summer, so monitor your plants for signs of nutrient deficiency, such as yellowing leaves. Alternatively, use a regular fertilizer according to package instructions. During the heat of summer, when watering frequently, it may be helpful to apply a diluted fertilizer once a week.

Reroute Vigorous Vines

With warm temperatures, vines are shooting off in all directions. Tie them to trellises, provide climbing support on walls, or prune judiciously while they are still pliable and manageable, as they can quickly grow out of control.

Water Wildflowers

The sudden rise in temperature is drying out our once-rain-drenched soil. Dig your finger down into the soil. If dry at 1 or 2 inches, apply water to prolong the bloom period of these flowers.

Finish Transplanting Landscape Plants

Dig those final holes and get trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, cacti, succulents, and perennials into the ground. The goal is to let their roots establish before the intense heat of summer hits. Keep soil consistently moist for several weeks as roots acclimate, and then gradually increase the time between irrigations. As a guideline in spring, water every three to four days for the first two weeks, then every six to seven days for the next two weeks. If weather is hot, increase these frequencies.

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