Gardening Calendar for the Southwest

Mid-November through December:


You still have time in mid-November to plant wildflowers from seed and set out landscape plants, especially if the weather is mild. But don't procrastinate. If you wait much longer or the weather has turned cold, hold off until spring to plant.



Cool, cloudy and rainy, or warm, bright and sunny? If itís the former, reduce watering (or reset the drip irrigation timer) to twice a month or less. (Newly planted plants more frequently.) If itís the latter, continue to deep-water established plants about once each month until spring, perhaps every six weeks for established native trees and shrubs.



Protect Cold-Tender Plants. By mid-November, rustle up some old blankets, tarps and plastic coverings ahead of time to cover citrus, tender perennials, bougainvillea and other cold-sensitive plants. Listen to the weather reports for projected lows, but if the evening sky is cloudy, temperatures will probably be moderate. The clouds act as insulation, holding in the daytime heat. Clear night skies--especially if they occur several evenings in a row--often mean weíre in for freezing temperatures.

Pruning. Wait one to two more months (January-February) before pruning most deciduous (leaves drop in winter) trees and shrubs when they are fully dormant. With a hard freeze, top growth of tender plants such as red bird of paradise and lantana will be killed to the ground. You can cut them back in December to improve landscape appearance but better to wait till after last frost has passed in March. Plants will regrow vigorously when warm spring temperatures return.

Fertilize Vegetables. Winter vegetables will benefit from applications of ammonium nitrate fertilizer November through December. Apply small amounts around the roots of peas, lettuce, broccoli and carrots and water well.

Remove Mistletoe. By December, most leaves from trees will have dropped. The bare branches may reveal a problem that was hard to see when the tree was in leaf--mistletoe. Prune to remove.

Make the Most of Compost. Take advantage of winter leaf drop and other organic by-products of the landscape and add them to a compost pile. A simple frame of heavy wire fencing or discarded pallets in an out-of-the-way corner of the garden will hold the materials, help heat up the pile to make what many gardeners call black gold. Use compost as a soil amendment or mulch.

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