Gardening Calendar for the Southwest

Fall at last


Mid-September through October is prime time to plant. Sow seeds of wildflowers, set out landscape plants from containers and cool-season annuals such as pansies, petunias, snapdragons and violas from flats or packs. Many botanic gardens and arboretums, as well as other agencies sponsor fall plant sales--go early for a wide selection of water-conserving native plants.) Mid-month, sow seed of cool-season vegetables such as carrots, peas and green onions. Wait to sow lettuce (or start seeds in flats for transplanting) until temperatures cool in October. Mid-September is good time to start a lawn from sod or seed, when soil temperatures are warm and air temperatures are cooler If you plan to overseed your Bermuda grass lawn with winter ryegrass, now's the time. Stop fertilizing Bermuda grass, mow it low (to inch) and sow ryegrass seed. Water regularly with a fine mist sprinkler.

Soil Preparation. If you didn't improve planting beds as suggested in August, don't delay. Add organic amendments in mid-September to get fall gardens ready for planting.



Irrigate newly planted plants and new lawn every day to every few days (depending on high temperatures). For lawn and wildflowers, use a sprinkler that will apply a fine mist spray so seeds won't be washed from the soil. As the weather cools, gradually reduce frequency and increase duration--adding a little more water and a little more time between each session--as fall blends into winter. Likewise, taper irrigation of all landscape plants beginning in early fall to ready them for winter temperatures.



Fertilize. Early in September, continue to fertilize hardy landscape plants and lawns. Cease fertilizing cold-tender plants such as citrus, hibiscus and bougainvillea. You don't want to encourage fresh, tender growth with cold temperatures coming in a month or two. Also stop fertilizing deciduous fruit trees to bring on the dormancy they need.

Combat Animal Pests. Neighborhood birds and rabbits will love your new plants and seeds as much as you. Sturdy wire cages (bury wire several inches deep to hold in place) help keep rabbits out, but don't underestimate their tenacity, especially during periods of drought. Stake netting, fencing or other screening over newly seeded wildflowers, annuals and vegetables to deter hungry birds.

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Last modified 06/24/2023