Southwestern Deserts

November, 2000
Regional Report

Continue Harvesting Citrus


Taste-test citrus fruit for flavor, as the longer it stays on the tree, the sweeter it becomes. Navel and Arizona sweet oranges may be ready for harvest now, but grapefruit and Valencia oranges usually sweeten up later. Tangerines, tangelos, lemons, limes, kumquats, and limequats may be ready for picking now.

Bulb Planting


You can still plant spring-blooming bulbs this month in the low desert if you haven't done so already. Mix a phosphorus-rich fertilizer such as bone meal into the bottom of the planting hole to promote bloom. Bulbs that were planted earlier this fall may be poking up green shoots now. Keep soil moderately moist, but don't overwater or bulbs can rot. A 2-inch layer of mulch will help maintain soil moisture.

Holiday Plant Care


Provide blooming holiday plants such as poinsettia and Christmas cactus with bright light, but keep them out of direct sunlight and cold drafts and away from heating units. Maintain consistent soil moisture. Take off the colorful foil wraps when watering, so water can run out the drainage holes and not sit in the base of the pot and rot the plant's roots.

Plant Bare-Root Roses

Dig a 2-foot-by-2-foot hole and amend the soil by using equal parts of native soil, potting soil, and compost. Put 2 to 3 shovels of the backfill into the hole and make a cone shape with it. Spread the rose roots carefully over the cone of soil. This helps them grow out into the surrounding soil without becoming rootbound. Before filling in the hole, ensure that the rose\'s bud union (a slightly raised bump near the base of the plant where the rose variety was grafted onto the rootstock) is about 2 inches above the soil line.

Protect Plants from Freezing

Monitor weather forecasts and be ready to cover tender plants such as citrus, lantana, bougainvillea, hibiscus, and natal plum when freezes are due. Wrap young citrus trunks with burlap, frost cloth, or several layers of newspaper and leave the protection on until after the last spring frost. Cover the tips of columnar cacti with styrofoam cups to prevent damage.

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