Southwestern Deserts

November, 2012
Regional Report

Keep an Eye on Tecoma Shrubs

Many gardeners in the Phoenix area have noticed something is munching foliage on tecoma shrubs, such as yellow bells and orange jubilee. University of Arizona Department of Entomology has identified the chewer as a non-native caterpillar, Antigrastra catalaunalis, which has been dubbed with the common name of tecoma leaf-tier. Because this insect is a new introduction in the low desert, the folks at Cooperative Extension are counseling patience until more is known. Upcoming cold weather may handle the problem. The caterpillar's habit is to cover itself with leaf material; therefore spraying insecticides will probably not be an effective control.

Enjoy Ornamental Grasses

In fall, seed heads on ornamental grasses such as pink muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris 'Regal Mist') and silky thread grass (Nassella tenuissima), are at their showiest. Visit botanical and demonstration gardens to see what grasses strike your fancy and get ideas on how clumping grasses might blend with other plants in your landscape.

Monitor Water Needs of Fall Transplants

Keep soil consistently moist for several weeks after transplanting, gradually tapering off as roots get established. Water should soak deeply through the entire root zone with each irrigation. This leaches salts below the root zone.

Sow Tatsoi in the Vegetable Garden

This tasty Asian green is easy to grow from seed, features pretty dark green leaves that grow in tidy rosette shapes, and can be harvested again and again through the growing season. Simply pick the outer leaves and the center will continue to produce new foliage.

Leave Clippings on the Lawn after Mowing

Because they are already chopped into small pieces and are full of moisture, the clippings will quickly decompose, returning nutrients to the soil. You can reduce the amount of fertilizer applied by about 25 percent simply by leaving the clippings behind!

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