Southwestern Deserts

August, 2007
Regional Report

Buy Wildflower Seeds

Purchase native seeds at area botanical gardens and arboreta gift shops or order through suppliers to be sure seeds are on hand when you're ready to plant in fall. Or, sort through your own cache of saved seeds!

Reduce Irrigation if Rains are Adequate

If your area receives monsoon rains, it may be possible to skip a planned irrigation to conserve precious water. In addition, too much water can rot roots.

Listen to Cicadas

Male cicadas are the source of that intense ruckus coming from trees: noisy males are attempting to attract females. Stem tips may look like they're suffering from dieback, but it's usually insufficient to cause real harm to the plant. It's caused when females make tiny bite marks on the tender plant tissue and then insert an egg. Eggs hatch, the grub drops to the ground and burrows into the soil, eating organic matter for a year or two before emerging as adults. As adults shed their skins, they can be seen stuck to the side of buildings and trees or left on the ground. No chemical control is needed. There is a beneficial wasp that preys on cicadas.

Provide Clean Water Sources

Be sure pumps on fountains are working to maintain water circulation. Stagnant water harbors disease and mosquito larvae. Scrub birdbaths every few days with a brush and 10 percent bleach solution. Let dry in the sun before refilling.

Remove Weeds

Summer rains promote a quick crop of weeds. Pull seedlings as soon as they appear to prevent competition with your plants for food and water. Weeds are satisfyingly easy to yank when soil is moist during the rainy season. You can toss green weeds (without seedheads) into the compost pile or let them leave them on the ground to decompose and put their nutrients back into the soil. If you waited so long to pull them that seedheads have developed, toss weeds in the trash.

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