Wildflowers

When the winter and summer rains are done, the Sonoran Desert comes alive with bright and vibrant wildflowers. To achieve this natural looking landscape you will need to know when and how to plant your wildflower seeds.wildflowercombo

Soil

Before planting, it is best to loosen the soil in the area you want your wildflowers to bloom. This enhances soil aeration and increases water permeability.

Time To Plant

The optimum soil temperatures needed for seed germination vary depending on species. Spring-blooming annuals such as poppies, lupines and bluebells should be planted October through December. Summer-blooming annuals such as Arizona poppy and devil’s claw can be planted in late spring or early summer. Seed planting also varies for perennials. Penstemons, evening primroses and blackfoot daisy germinate more readily in the fall. Summer growers such as datura, desert senna and desert plumbago germinate in late spring to early summer.

Sowing

After you have prepared your soil, level the bed with a rake to create an even surface on which to sow your seeds. Your flowers will look more natural if the seed is broadcast randomly and evenly over the prepared beds rather than planted in rows. It also helps if you mix your seeds with sand or fine dirt for ease in broadcasting them more evenly. Read package instructions as some seeds may need treatment prior to sowing.

Watering

Dsc00043Water the seeds daily with a fine mist sprayer, keeping the soil evenly moist until they emerge from the ground. Once the seedlings emerge, water every other day, keeping a careful watch on the small plants and not allowing them to dry out. Once the plants are showing four to five leaves and are well established, a deep soaking once a week or less often will suffice.

For more information on wildflowers, please go to: http://www.dbg.org/gardening-horticulture/gardening-resources

Source: http://www.dbg.org

Dodder

IMG_6087Have you ever walked by a shrub that looked like it was covered with spaghetti? No, it’s not cloudy with a chance of meatballs – the plant is infected with a weed called Dodder. Dodder is a parasitic vine that is extremely difficult to eradicate. What is a parasitic vine? It’s a weed that depends on a host plant for all of its needs.

How to Identify Dodder

To spot Dodder, look for long, slender, thread like stems that kind of look like spaghetti. It may also have bell shaped flowers that are cream colored. Dodder is a tricky weed because it grows and branches out to nearby plants very easily. Because of this ability, it often looks like a matted mess covering up a whole plant. The more vines there are, the more energy that is removed from the host plant. The loss of nutrients to the Dodder combined with the loss of light from the matted weeds can cause major damage to the host plant.

IMG_6077Dodder Challenges

One of the biggest challenges with Dodder is its seeds. Dodder is a flowering plant and its flowers will produce thousands of seeds which, when mature, will fall to the soil below. The seeds have a very hard coat around them and stay dormant in the soil until the right conditions come around to sprout. When it comes to getting rid of a Dodder infestation, it is the seeds that cause the greatest headache, which is why prevention is so important.

Removal

At the first sign of Dodder, pull it off the plant and throw it away. Check the infestation site often because the weed may quickly regrow so it’s important to keep pulling. If you see Dodder soon after it has attached itself to a host, prune the infected portion of the host plant 1/8 to 1/4 inch below the point of the attachment, otherwise the dodder can regenerate. If the Dodder is attached to a shrub or tree, pruning is only helpful if it is confined to one or two branches. Removing any more than that will most likely cause major damage to the host shrub or tree.

Because Dodder is extremely difficult to destroy once it has taken over a plant, it is important to try to end the growth cycle. Use a pre-emergent herbicide like oryzaline that, when added to the soil under the infested plants, will kill the seed before it grows. Currently, there are no post-emergent herbicides that kill dodder without also killing the host plant. If the infestation is completely unmanageable, removal of the host plant with its attached dodder may be the easiest solution.