Southwestern Deserts

October, 2007
Regional Report

Plant Bulbs

Bulbs do best in loose, organically rich soil with excellent drainage. If soil stays wet, bulbs rot. Add a generous layer (4 to 6 inches) of compost and nitrogen fertilizer according to package instructions. If you have clay soil, add soil sulfur or gypsum to help with drainage. Mix phosphorous fertilizer, such as bone meal, in the bottom of the planting hole. Unlike nitrogen, phosphorous doesn't move readily through the soil, so it's best to place it where the roots will have more immediate access to it.

Sow Wildflowers

Don't forget to sow seeds by the end of this month so they have the best chance of establishing and taking advantage of winter rains. (Think positively -- rains may happen!)

Fill a Container with Cool-Season Flowers

Use potting soil formulated for containers, or add 1/3 pumice to your regular mix. Pots should have drainage holes. If not, you can drill a hole. If you're afraid of cracking a pretty container, place a slightly smaller pot with drainage inside of the showy one. Fill in the space between pots with Spanish moss until trailing plants cover it. Make sure water doesn't accumulate or roots will rot.

Tidy Up Herbs

After the long, hot summer, herbs may look a little rough around the edges. Lightly trim dead growth back to the ground or to the next larger branch/stem without leaving stubs.

Divide or Transplant Perennials

Fall is a good time to divide daylilies, monarda, and catmint. Transplant seedlings of desert marigold and penstemon into other locations.

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