Southwestern Deserts

June, 2009
Regional Report

Monitor Water Needs of Landscapes

June is the hottest, driest month in the low desert. Monitor plants for signs of water stress, such as yellowing, wilting, and wrinkling. Adjust automatic timers to increase the frequency of watering. Always water landscape plants deeply to flush salts below the root system and reduce the chance of salt burn. Salt burn shows up as browning along the edges of leaves.

Harvest Herbs

To keep herb plants from getting too woody and to promote bushiness, snip them back regularly. Deadhead any flower buds that appear, as herbs tend to lose flavor or become bitter when they go to flower. Dry some herbs for later use.

Water Cactus and Succulents

Contrary to some people's belief, cacti and succulent plants can not go indefinately without water. Wrinkling, shrinking, and yellowing are signs of water stress. If there are no rains, water cacti and yucca about every four weeks. Other succulents such as euphorbia, aloe, and agave may need watering every one to two weeks. Containerized plants will need more frequent water than those in the ground.

Protect Vegetables

Place a layer of clean, weed-free straw underneath melon, cucumber, squash, and tomato fruits to keep them off the moist soil. This helps prevent rotting and subsequent pest damage. A board also works if you have no straw or another dry mulch material.

Cover the Compost

With hot temperatures and drying winds, compost piles dry out rapidly in summer. To help keep the pile moist, cover it with a tarp or large sheet of plastic. Water is an essential ingredient for soil microorganisms as they decompose the materials. Take the covering off when summer rains are predicted.

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