Southwestern Deserts

January, 2013
Regional Report

Transplant Bare-Root Deciduous Fruit Trees

If you plant apple, apricot, peach, and plum trees with chilling-hour requirements that are equal to, or somewhat less than, chilling hours available in your area, the likelihood of a good fruit set increases. Chilling hours are typically defined as hours in which the temperature is below 45 degrees F. Use the following guidelines for average chilling hours found at Southwest elevations or check with your County Cooperative Extension office for your specific area. Up to 2,500 feet, less than 400 chilling hours; between 2,500 and 4,000 feet, 400 to 700 chilling hours; between 4,000 and 6,000 feet, 700 to 1,000 chilling hours.

Fertilize Citrus Trees

Citrus requires nitrogen throughout the year to produce a healthy fruit crop. Apply one-third of a tree's annual nitrogen requirement in January or February. Apply the remaining thirds in April or May and August or September. Different amounts of fertilizer are applied depending on the age of the tree, the fertilizer's nitrogen content, and the type of citrus (grapefruit takes less fertilizer than others). If you use a fertilizer formulated for citrus, follow package instructions. If you use a basic nitrogen fertilizer, the Fertilizing Citrus Chart from University of Arizona Cooperative Extension sorts out the amounts for you. Find it at

Transplant Bare-Root Roses

You can choose roses based on type, size, flower color, and fragrance. Another option is to select by rose names and themes. For example, a Southwestern themed rose garden might include 'Arizona', 'Hot Princess', 'My Sunshine', 'Our Lady of Guadalupe', 'Sunglow', and 'Sunstruck'. All appear on the Mesa-East Valley (Arizona) Rose Society list described as "roses that love our heat."

Prune Dormant Fruits

Effective pruning enhances fruit production.Trim deciduous fruit trees, grapes, and blackberries before bud-break (new growth) starts. At low elevations, finish pruning by about the end of January. At mid elevations, finish by late February to early March.

Prune Modern Hybrid Roses

Roses must be pruned rather drastically to encourage their fabulous spring bloom period in April in the low desert. For all rose types, remove dead, crossed, spindly, or old canes, which improves air and sunlight circulation through the bush. For hybrid tea, hybrid perpetual, and grandiflora roses, remove one-third to one-half of the bush, leaving 4 to 8 thick canes. Strip all foliage. For floribunda, shrub, and miniature roses, prune somewhat less drastically, leaving 8 to 12 canes, and cutting back one-third of the bush. Seal cuts with wood glue to prevent borers from entering. Note that this is the only occasion when pruning cuts should be sealed.

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