Southwestern Deserts

July, 2006
Regional Report

Hose off Dusty Plants

Spider mites like dusty conditions so the easiest way to prevent them from taking hold is to hose off dusty plants after windstorms. Spider mites are teeny and hard to see, but can often be located because of fine webbing on plants. They are particularly fond of roses.

Watch for Praying Mantids

These beneficial insects are fun to watch, especially for children. They sit with enlarged front legs held upright, in a prayer position, waiting to grab insect prey. Females lay eggs in a substance that hardens to resemble brown styrofoam. Look for these egg cases on walls, underneath leaves, and along stems.

Water Lawns Wisely

Water Bermuda grass every 2 to 3 days when temperatures are 90 degrees F and above. Water should soak 8 to 10 inches deep. Don't waste water. If it runs off into the sidewalk or street, reposition sprinkler heads. If the soil is so hard that water won't soak in, aerate by punching small holes in the grass with an aerating machine to improve water penetration.

Sow Pumpkin Seeds

Sow seeds now in rich, organic soil to have Jack-o'-lanterns in time for Halloween. Be forewarned that pumpkins are water-thirsty plants and need consistent soil moisture. Smaller pumpkins are easier to grow to maturity than larger sizes.

Harvest Rainwater

Rainwater is great for plants. When summer thunderstorms arrive (think positive!), be prepared to collect a bucketful to give your houseplants a treat. On a larger scale, consider adding a rain barrel beneath the eaves or rain gutters to direct water to a planting area.

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