Southwestern Deserts

January, 2001
Regional Report

Reduce Winter Watering


Established landscape trees and shrubs, citrus trees, and succulents need watering only once every 3-4 weeks in winter. Smaller perennials may need water every 2-3 weeks, and annuals 1-2 times a week. Continue to water deeply through the entire root zone for all plants.

Pruning Time

Prune non-native roses, deciduous shade trees and deciduous fruit trees such as apple, peach, and apricot now. Hold off on pruning native trees until after they bloom in spring or summer. Prune exotic tropicals such as bougainvillea, hibiscus, and natal plum after all danger of frost is over.

Pull Winter Weeds


Pull weeds as soon as they appear. Weeds thrive because they're prolific seed producers. Don't let them flower and spread their seed, which can remain in the soil for years to sprout when moisture conditions are favorable. Weeds pulled before they go to seed are an excellent source of nitrogen for the compost pile. However, avoid adding weeds that spread by runners, such as Bermuda grass, to your pile because they may survive the composting to reinfect your gardens.

Start Tomatoes and Peppers

Sow seeds indoors for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant for transplanting outdoors after frost - usually mid-March in the low desert. Some gardeners transplant in mid-February, but you must provide frost protection in February. Choose tomato varieties that mature quickly or are heat resistant for best chances of success.

Fertilize Citrus


Fertilize citrus trees in January or February with one-third of the tree's total annual nitrogen requirements. Apply another third of the dose in April or May and the final third in August or September. The amount of fertilizer added depends on the tree's size and how many years it has been in the ground and is listed on the container. Water plants thoroughly before and after applying the fertilizer to prevent burn.

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