Southwestern Deserts

November, 2005
Regional Report

Spread Mulch

Renew layers of organic mulch around the base of landscape plants. Two or three inches of mulch will maintain soil moisture and reduce soil temperatures. As it breaks down over time, mulch adds nutrients to the soil. This adds up to a healthy environment for roots. Mulch also inhibits weed germination. Plants provide their own mulch. Allow plant litter to accumulate beneath the canopy rather than raking it up.

Divide Aloes

Gently lift aloe "pups" at the base of the parent plant with a trowel. Cut through any thick stems attached to the parent with a sharp, sterile knife. Allow the cuts to dry and callus for several days to a week before replanting. If the pup had healthy roots and no cuts were needed, it can be replanted immediately. Aloes like good drainage and thrive in a site with filtered sunlight, such as beneath a tree canopy.

Plant Red and White Color Bowls

Create some splashes of color for the upcoming holidays. Cool-season flowers in red or white include celosia, dianthus, geranium, petunia, salvia, snapdragon, and stock. White lantana adds a nice trailing effect. Mix a slow-release fertilizer into the soil mix.

Check Irrigation Systems

When the irrigation system is running, examine emitters and bubblers to make sure they are not clogged and that water is applied at the outer edge of each plant's canopy. If necessary, move emitters outward or add more emitters to keep pace with the plant's growth.

Remove Sneaky Bermuda Grass

If Bermuda grass crept into garden beds with its vigorous underground stolens, dig them up. It may be necessary to dig 12 to 18 inches or more to get out all of the roots. Bermuda grass is tenacious and can live to sprout from the smallest piece of plant material, so sift through the soil to get it all!

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