Southwest Gardener's May Checklist

7 Sep

Southwest Gardener's May Checklist

May is the perfect time to include summer-flowering shrubs and perennials to a desert garden, before the heat of summer arrives. How about planting some cacti or succulents on your landscape? They add great texture to the garden with their various shapes and offer yet another bonus — they’re low maintenance.

By May the threat of frost is nearly over for those of you who garden in the upper elevations. Sharpen those pruners when the flowers have faded, and get prepared to prune back footprints. For those of you who have waited patiently, it is finally time to get busy in the vegetable garden and sow seeds.

The American Southwest is a vast place, covering most of Arizona and New Mexico and elements of California, Nevada, Texas and Utah. The areas of the Southwest are varied and include non deserts, high seas and mountainous areas, covering USDA zones 5 though 9.

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All Desert Regions

Lightly prune palo verde(Parkinsonia sp)along with mesquite (Prosopis sp)trees, focusing on eliminating crossing branches along with any dead or broken branches.

Also prune spring-flowering shrubs as soon as they’ve finished flowering. Cassia (Senna sp),Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora),Valentine bush (Eremophila maculata ‘Valentine’)along with brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) are only a few spring-flowering shrubs you may prune now.

Shown: Flowering ‘Desert Museum’ palo verde trees

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Low, Mid- and High Deserts

Plant summer-flowering shrubs. May is a great time to incorporate beautiful flowering shrubs to your landscape before the intense heat of summer arrives.

Should you like purple flowers, then try planting one of numerous different sorts of Texas ranger (Leucophyllum sp). The colour of the foliage ranges in the bright green of ‘Rio Bravo’ (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’)tothe gray-green of ‘Green Cloud’ (Leucophyllum frutescens ‘Green Cloud’)along with the striking grey foliage of ‘Thundercloud’ (Leucophyllum candidum ‘Thundercloud’). Flushes of flowers appear off and on summer through early autumn.

Shown: Thundercloud silver blossom (Leucophyllum candidum ‘Thundercloud’)

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Add cacti and succulents. Do you love the intriguing shapes and effortless care of succulents? Mexican fence post(Pachycereus marinatus), prickly pear (Opuntia sp), yucca and agave are just a few instances of cacti and succulents that will add visual interest to any landscape.

Believe it or not, cacti and succulents may get sunburned, particularly if newly planted. To avoid this, note which path the cacti or succulent was growing initially and be sure to point it in the exact same way when planting. The cause of this is both sides of the cacti that points south has become immune to the sun than the side that points north. The direction is marked on the container.

Water based cacti once a month through the summer and succulents another week.

Shown: Beavertail prickly pear (Opuntia basilaris)

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Add flowering plants to entice pollinators to a vegetable garden. Flowering plants like cosmos, lavender, marigold, salvia and sunflowers not decorate your vegetable garden, but they also help to entice pollinators for edibles like beans, cucumbers, melons and squash.

Cosmos, marigolds and sunflowers may be planted from seed once you sow your own vegetable garden.

Shown: Cosmos and marigolds planted among vegetables

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Upper Elevations (More than 6,000 Feet)

Cut off dead flowers from flowering bulbs like crocuses, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips. Do not remove the leaves nevertheless; they will provide food for next season’s flowers. Pull the leaves out after they have turned yellow.

Shown: Hyacinth

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Plant your favourite herbs. Would you like to snip fresh herbs off whenever you need them for that special meal you are preparing? Herbs are easy to grow. Pick a spot that receives at least six hours of sun and plant some basil, oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme on your garden.

Herbs are not picky, but they do like to be watered deeply and then allowed to dry out a little between watering. Add water once the top inch of soil is dry.

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Fertilize roses following new leaves appear. Roses like fertile, rich dirt. You can fertilize and enrich the soil around your rosebushes with this exceptional mixture:
Your preferred rose fertilizer (follow the package directions for how much to include)4 cups compost2 cups outdated steer manure for every rosebushUsing a broom handle, create four 6-inch deep holes about 1 foot away from the base of your rosebush. Then add the mixture to every hole and water deeply. By incorporating this fertilizer-compost-manure mixture in these holes, then you are placing it right where the roses’ roots are.

Do this every spring and you’ll be rewarded with green, healthy rosebushes covered in lovely blossoms.

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Plant warm-season vegetables following the average frost date for your region has passed. As your soil warms up, it is time to plant beans, corn, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash and melons in the vegetable garden. Each one of these vegetables may be planted from transplants or out of seed (with the exception of corn, which must be sown directly in the garden).

Get ready for June. It’s getting hot in the garden. Next month I’ll discuss how to search for signs of heat stress in plants and how to help them cope with extreme temperatures.

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