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

From The Case Files: Agave Snout Weevil

Agave Weevils LCWhat Are Agave Snout Weevils?
Agave Snout Weevils are inch-long, dusty black, wingless insects and — as their name suggests — are particularly fond of Agave. Adults are known to lay their eggs between the leaves of Agaves, and the hatching larvae burrow into the plant. Infestation causes Agaves to collapse into a rotting mess during late summer and early fall.

How Do I Know If My Agave Is Infested?
Agaves 1 LCTypically, an Agave Snout Weevil infestation is not discovered until the damage is too severe to save the plant. As the insects feed on the plant, they inject a bacterial infection, causing the leaves begin to wrinkle. The leaves will continue to shrivel over time as the infection moves through the heart of the plant. You might also notice a foul odor as the plant rots. The Agave will eventually collapse, leaving only the central spikes of the plant still standing. By this point, rehabilitating the plant is unlikely.

Agaves 2 LCHow Do I Eradicate Them?
Once you’ve recognized that you have an Agave Snout Weevil problem, it’s important that you remove all dead and infected plant parts from your garden. DLC’s Experts recommend inspecting the surrounding soil for adult weevils or larvae. Any remaining adults or larvae must be removed to avoid the infestation of other plants.

The key to eradicating Agave Snout Weevils is proactive prevention. Once the pests have infected your Agave, it’s nearly impossible to reverse the damage. The best thing you can do is prevent future attacks from claiming the lives of other plants. DLC’s Experts suggest applying a pesticide with Imidacloprid as the main ingredient around the base of the plant in early April and again in late May. Imidacloprid is a systemic insecticide so it will work its way from the base through the entire plant and keep Agave Snout Weevils from feeding on it. Pesticides containing Imidacloprid can be found at your local home improvement store or nursery. As with any pesticide, follow the instructions on the label for proper use.

Care For Your Ocotillo

Ocotillo_ImageOcotillo, Fouquieria splendens, is a slow-growing plant native to the Southwest region. Boasting tall slender cane stalks that bloom with bright red-orange, trumpet shaped flowers, the Ocotillo is a popular desert landscape plant requiring little maintenance.

Ocotillo Characteristics

  • A mature plant typically reaches 12 feet high and 10 feet wide, but can grow much larger
  • Thrive in full sunlight and attract hummingbirds
  • Deciduous, meaning they shed their leaves through the winter months and leaf out after periods of sufficient soil moisture
  • Can tolerate low temperatures down to 10° F before suffering serious injury or damage
  • Red-orange flowers blossom in the Spring

Planting Your Ocotillo

Soil LineAccording to the University of Arizona’s Cooperative Extension, transplanting is best done March through May. Plant a bare-root Ocotillo in dry, loose, sandy soil with light to moderate amounts of organic content to ensure root development. If your Ocotillo is marked on the South side, it should be planted facing South. To help the ocotillo from falling over or blowing down in a storm, large stones may be placed over the root area (2-4 inches from the trunk). Ocotillos need full sunlight in open areas where surface water does not collect.

Little Maintenance Required

ocotilloThe Ocotillo is highly drought tolerant and considered a low-water-use plant. It will require irrigation after it has been planted. Avoid over watering the soil, as too much groundwater will cause the roots of the plant to rot. Instead, water by spraying the cane of the plant and keep the soil moist. Water newly planted Ocotillos once a day (typically for 10 minutes) and established Ocotillos every month or so.

The Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA) recommends the “Do no harm” pruning method. Essentially, the best method of care for your Ocotillos is to only remove dead or diseased wood. This is particularly true for Ocotillos in the ground for less than three years.

Some degree of growth set-back is expected after planting. Wait patiently – these plants often look like they are dead, especially in periods of drought. With minimal care and watering, most Ocotillos will develop into attractive and healthy plants when left alone.

Resources
University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Office
AMWUA Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert Guide

Cactus Care

Cactus LCWatering Guidelines

Cacti have an amazing ability to store water and adapt to new environments. Over-watering combined with poorly drained soil is a recipe for cacti to struggle. The soil should dry almost completely between watering cycles. Check the root zone about 2-3 inches below the surface. If the soil is still damp, wait until it is dry before applying more water. Regularly checking the root zone before watering gives you a good idea of what your plants’ unique watering needs are.

As a general rule, cacti planted in well drained soil can be watered every 10-14 days for one hour (based on using drip irrigation) during the summer months. That amount of time allows the soil to dry thoroughly between watering, yet gives the plant enough supplemental water to survive the heat. As daylight decreases in fall, water should be reduced. As nighttime temperatures drop below 60 degrees, turn off the water completely. Most cacti can survive on natural rainfall alone during winter months.

These watering guidelines apply to most cacti. The one exception is Saguaro cacti. Saguaros should never be watered. If you have a Saguaro that appears to be suffering, consult with your local nursery that specializes in selling cacti.

Fertilizers

There is no need to apply fertilizer to cacti planted in the landscape. Cacti planted in pots do occasionally need some fertilizer. In that case, use tomato food (8-20-10) unless you can find specialized cactus fertilizer at a nursery. Apply the fertilizer once a month during the summer months only.

Cacti Challenges

Cacti suffer and often die from three main sources: soil borne pathogens, insects and animals. Pathogens, mostly fungi, affect cacti in many different ways. Normally you will see brown depressions form at the affected area. In some cases, the affected areas can be treated by a fungicide. If the disease has spread to the point where it is highly noticeable, it is better to remove the cactus before the disease spreads to neighboring plants. Proper watering is the key to preventing the spread of soil borne pathogens.

Proper watering also plays a key role in discouraging insects from damaging cacti. Insects are opportunistic and need moisture to survive. Saturating your soil with water is an open invitation to an insect.

Animals, particularly rabbits, find some varieties of cacti tasty and can cause significant damage. The best way to prevent animal damage is to limit access to the plants. Install wire mesh around cacti, especially while they are young. Or simply find a different location to plant your cacti.

Source:

http://arizonacactussales.com/care-tips/

http://www.cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/az1399.pdf

Planting and Caring for New Plants

Whether you want to add new plants to your yard or you’re replacing plants you lost to winter’s freezing temperatures, now is the time to plant to give them the best chance of surviving the summer heat.

Shrub and Tree LandscapeIdeally, new plants should be installed when nighttime temperatures are over 55 degrees for a prolonged period of time and daytime temperatures are less than 90 degrees. For our desert landscape, plant replacement is most successful in the early spring because temperatures and humidity allow the plant to establish itself in its new environment before the harsher summer weather arrives. Certain tree species like acacia salicina and the desert willow demand spring planting because they establish new roots very slowly.

When choosing your new plants and trees, ask yourself these following questions:

Is it the right plant/tree for the right space?

How big is your plant or tree going to be in its mature size as it relates to its space? Does it have thorns that could grow into the common areas and sidewalks?  Do the roots have enough space to find the nutrients it needs? Expect trees to have root systems that reach out underground has far as its canopy extends.

What kind of light does it need?

The closer that the plant is to those hard surfaces like sidewalks and brick walls, the more sun and heat it will absorb. Be cautious of placing plants near these reflective surfaces.

How much water does it need?

Young plants will need more water as they root out looking for nutrients in the soil. Look for signs of distress like wilting or curling of leaves, leaves losing their color, and dead stems as signals of needing to water more. Also consider possibly using mulch or fertilizer to boost the young plant’s growth.

A young tree will need to have more emitters located near its trunk initially. These emitters will need to be moved from the trunk on a yearly basis to encourage the spread of the roots as the tree matures.

Nary a Worry…With The Right Program, Weeds Are a Non-Issue

As great as the rains have been for plants and turf, they’ve also been good for one other thing. Weeds love rain! It’s during springtime that weeds grow the fastest and, without control, can dominate decomposed granite (DG) and other areas.

Weed Control

THE GOOD NEWS?

If we’re at your Community, we’ve got you covered. DLC already has a comprehensive weed control program in place, using pre and post emergent products. For those few weeds that do pop up, we treat them in their early stages so they’re a non-issue.

QUICK TIP: If you’re currently battling with weeds in your Community, you might review your landscape providers’ plan.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: To learn more about weed control for homeowners, click here.

Bougainvillea

BougainvilleaThe Bougainvillea, a versatile, evergreen desert woody vine, flowers several times throughout the year and is native to the Brazilian coast. The most common type of Bougainvillea plant in the Southwest has vibrant reddish pink flowers; however some varieties have more pink, salmon or purple blooms. This resilient and drought tolerant plant grows in a variety of different manners, including climbing vines and bushes, and can be trained to grow in various shapes and in many different sized spaces.

Before the Frost Comes

During the fall months, balanced pruning is needed for your Bougainvillea plant. Pruning should be done to keep the plant from encroaching on walkways or to keep the plant within its boundaries. However, you want to make sure not to drastically prune before frost season so you do not expose sensitive parts of the plant to the freezing temperatures. When the frost blankets the ground, the large portions of the plant that remain will turn a brownish black color and the leaves will drop, leaving just the stick portion of the plant for the winter. If you prune your plant excessively in the fall, there will not be much of the plant left when the frost damage is pruned away next spring. To ready your plant for the winter months, stop watering it around Thanksgiving for the winter and start watering again around mid-February when the daytime temperatures return to the 80s.

Winter

In the colder months, it is recommended that you not prune your Bougainvillea plant to help protect it from frost damage. For younger plants, you may want to cover your Bougainvillea with a light cloth or sheet on nights when frost is a threat. If your plant suffers frost damage, you should wait to prune it until spring when the frost threat is gone since the damaged portions of the plants act as insulation for the rest of the plant throughout the winter.

When Spring Arrives

Now that the frost has gone, it is time to prune your Bougainvillea to ready it for the new growing season. You can choose to do a light prune, like you did in the fall and trim just the extremities of the plant or a hard prune which means you cut the plant down to almost the base to stimulate all new growth. When pruning, be sure to wear protective clothing as the Bougainvillea is a thorny plant. When daytime temperatures consistently reach the 80s again, you can begin regularly watering your plant material.

Planting New Bougainvillea

When installing a new Bougainvillea plant, you should keep a couple of things in mind. Since Bougainvillea can grow in a variety of space sizes, be sure to consider the fine root system of the plant and plant it in well-drained soils to prevent root rot. These plants prefer direct sunlight for at least 5 hours a day and because of the plants’ constant blooms, it might not be the best plant to plant near a pool.Bougainvillea After Trim

Bougainvillea Before TrimBougainvillea Cut Back in Fall