Southwestern Deserts

March, 2007
Regional Report

Transplant Tomatoes and Peppers

Set out tomatoes and peppers in a garden bed that receives 6 to 8 hours of full sun daily. Layer several inches of mulch around the base of the plants to help maintain consistent soil moisture.

Trim Frost-Damaged Plants

Wait to prune damaged plant material until new growth starts in spring. Then trim back to that point. Often, frost damage looks worse than it is, so waiting helps prevent removing more plant tissue than necessary.

Visit Public Gardens

Plan an outing to a regional botanical garden, arboretum, or demonstration garden. Many desert-adapted plants bloom in spring, and you can make a list of unusual species you might like to add to your own landscape. Also, many public gardens offer seasonal plant sales with unusual species not found elsewhere.

Fertilize Deciduous Fruit Trees

Feed apple, apricot, peach, and plum trees with nitrogen as temperatures rise and new leaf growth starts to push out. Wait until the last frost date in your area as tender new growth is susceptible to frost damage. Apply fertilizer at the edge of the tree's canopy where feeder roots absorb water, nutrients, and water. Water deeply after applying to prevent root burn.

Start Transplanting

After the last frost date in your area (typically around mid-March in the low desert) it's time to transplant desert-adapted trees, shrubs, ground covers, vines, perennials, ornamental grasses, and cacti and other succulents. Loosen soil in an area that is three to five times as wide as the container and only as deep as the container. This large area allows roots to spread outwards, developing a strong base.

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