Southwestern Deserts

May, 2009
Regional Report

Bulb Care

Let the foliage of spring-blooming bulbs brown and die back naturally. The green foliage is storing food for the bulb to grow again next year. Spread a layer of organic mulch on bulb beds, which will decompose and add nutrients to the soil. Mulch will also help maintain consistent soil moisture for summer-blooming bulbs such as lycoris and watsonia.

Allow Spider Webs to Remain

Leave a few spider webs intact, especially around patio doors or windows. You will be rewarded with close-up views of hummingbirds, as they hover and snatch up pieces of the web in their beaks. They use the sticky material to construct their nests.

Increase Watering Frequency of Containers

Warmer temperatures means the soil in containers heats up and dries out much faster. Increase watering as needed. It may be necessary to water daily, especially containers sitting on patios in full sun. Allow water to soak slowly through the soil and run out the drainage holes. This helps prevent the build-up of salts, which can kill plant roots.

Transplant Cactus

Allow freshly cut pads or sections to dry and callus over before transplanting. Plant in well draining soil, as cactus don't like wet roots. Six to eight inches is usually deep enough. (If planting from a container, dig a hole as deep as the container and twice as wide.) If possible, orient the cactus in the same direction as it was growing to help prevent tissue sunburn. Water immediately and then let dry out before the next watering.

Harvest Deciduous Fruit

Some deciduous fruits are readying for harvest, including peaches, plums and apricots. They will continue into June and be joined by apples. As fruit ripens, it may need protection from birds. Use bird netting or if the harvest is small, loosely wrap individual fruits in a paper bag. Birds are relentless though!

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