Southwestern Deserts

December, 2006
Regional Report

Monitor Houseplants

Many tropical houseplants are dormant or slow growing in winter, so don't overwater. Wet soil promotes root rot. Keep plants away from heating vents and cold air. Since days are shorter, move plants into as much bright light as possible.

Plant Annual Color Bowls

Fill a container with cool-season flowers, such as primroses, petunias, geraniums, pansies, snapdragons, and gerber daisies. Use a slow-release fertilizer with a well-drained potting mix.

Water Lawns Appropriately

Overseeded ryegrass needs water every 5 to 10 days in winter, depending on soil, rain, and weather conditions. Water should soak to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Nonoverseeded Bermuda that is dormant now needs water only once per month. Bermuda has a deeper root system, so water should soak 8 to 10 inches deep.

Transplant Volunteer Seedlings

Eager self-sowers, such as calendula, hollyhocks, toadflax, and poppies, are poking through the soil already. Catch them while they're small and move them to more suitable locations, as needed. Thin the extras.

Turn Compost

Work off some of those holiday calories by turning the compost pile. Sprinkle the organic matter with water as you work, remoistening everything like a damp sponge. Microorganisms performing the work need oxygen to thrive, and when it's used up, they die off and decomposition slows. Turning introduces more oxygen and jump-starts the process.

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