Southwestern Deserts

July, 2009
Regional Report

Sow Sunflower Seeds

Sunflowers germinate easily in warm soil temperatures. Keep soil moist until germination occurs. Sow native sunflowers in time to germinate with summer monsoon rains.

Provide Water for Wildlife

If you provide bird baths or other standing water sources for birds and other creatures in your landscape, make sure to clean and disinfect them regularly. Use a ten percent bleach solution (9 parts water, 1 part bleach) to scrub the receptacles and then let them dry in the sun before adding fresh water. If you are going on vacation, pay a neighbor kid to keep the water going. It's essential to keep the sources clean to prevent the spread of disease, and if animals are conditioned to drink in your yard, it's cruel to stop it.

Wash off Cochineal Scale

Prickly pear cacti are susceptible to cochineal scale, a teeny insect that exudes a white, cottony looking substance as protection. It spreads across the cacti pads, although usually at a slow rate. The best solution is to spray it off periodically with a forceful blast of water from the hose.

Sow Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkins are sown this month to be ready in time for Halloween. They require consistent soil moisture and are susceptible to whiteflies, which congregate in huge numbers on the undersides of the leaves. Those giant pumpkins the size of Cinderella's carriage aren't well-suited here. Stick to the smaller sizes, especially the minis!

Water Effectively

Continue to watch plants for signs of stress during the hot summer. Use a soil probe to determine how far water penetrates. It will move easily through moist soil but stop at dry, hard soil. For shallow-rooted plants, such as cacti, succulents, annuals, and perennials, water should soak 1 foot deep. For shrubs, it should soak 2 feet, and for trees, 3 feet. If water isn't soaking to this depth with each watering, add time to the irrigation cycle, add more emitters, or add emitters with a greater flow rate.

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