Southwestern Deserts

September, 2005
Regional Report

Buy Bulbs

Check local nurseries or order from specialty growers as soon as possible to ensure you get what you want. Wait to plant until weather cools off in October.

Prepare Garden Beds

Improve soil for vegetable, flower, herb and bulb beds. Loosen soil to a depth of 12 to 18 inches. If ground is too hard and rocky, consider making raised beds. Layer 4 to 6 inches of compost on top of the soil. If soil is heavy clay, add gypsum or soil sulfur according to package instructions. Incorporate it all in to a depth of at least 12 inches. Rake smooth and water. Pull weeds as soon as they sprout.

Prune and Fertilize Roses

Lightly prune roses to rejuvenate them for fall bloom. Hold off on major pruning until January. Fertilize with a product formulated for roses or flowering shrubs. Water in immediately after applying. Water should soak 2 feet deep.

Encourage Christmas Cacti to Bloom

These photoperiodic plants have bloom cycles that are sensitive to the amount of light they receive. Place them in 12 to 14 hours of complete darkness -- for example, in a closet with a box over them --each night for 2 months. Water when the soil surface is dry. At the end of the period, bring them out and resume normal watering and feeding. They should set buds quickly for holiday bloom.

Plant a Tree With Fall Color

If you want a tree that provides fall color in your yard, start checking nurseries for Chinese pistache trees. Their leaves provide splendid autumn hues of scarlet, orange and gold. Because the color can vary, it pays to look at them when the leaves are changing to make sure you get what you want.

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