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

Winter Annuals

One of the advantages of living in the Southwest region is bright, colorful flowers year-round. Annual flowerbeds often serve as a main feature at community and recreation center entrances and give the community a brightening up with each seasonal change. Selecting the right annual flowers for the weather is critical to achieving a seasonal burst of color. Add some color to your community with these suggestions:

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Geranium

Geraniums can be planted in a bed all by themselves, or mixed in with other annuals. Size varies with species, although most are low growing, from 3″ to about 2´ tall. Geraniums spread by rhizomes to 2-4 feet, but can be kept in check by periodic dividing. It is important to water geraniums thoroughly and let the soil dry between waterings.

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Petunia

The petunia is a flowering plant that originated in South America. It is a relatively small plant that comes in a variety of colors such as: white, yellow, pink, red, blue, or purple. Petunias are available in four main sizes: grandiflora (the largest type of petunia); spreading (covers about three to four feet of area); multiflora (multi-colored petals); and milliflora (smallest leaves). Petunias thrive in areas with 6-8 hours of sun per day and moist soil.

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Snapdragon

Snapdragons produce relatively large flowers on their stalks and heads given the size of the plant. This annual comes in a variety of colors and two sizes, which makes it a popular choice for winter color in the desert. Dwarf varieties grow to about 10 inches while the taller types grow to a height of 18-24 inches. Snapdragons do need to be “dead headed” throughout the season to remove the flowers that are past their prime.

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Pansy

As a member of the violet family, pansies are known for their wide variety of bright colors. They make good additions to annual beds in full to partial sun locations during our desert fall and early winter. As with most annual flowers, keep the soil moist and well drained to encourage growth and healthy blooms. These plants prefer not to be crowded by neighboring plants and can grown to 9 inches tall.

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Cyclamen

The unique shape of this flower makes it an interesting additions to fall/winter flowerbeds. They come in a variety of colors in red and purple family. The flower stalks rise above the round leaves and can grow up to 14 inches tall. Ensure the bed is well drained and plant in partial sun locations.

To learn more about common area planting, request a proposal for plant installation or common areas maintenance, or learn more about DLC Resources, email Rebecca Herro.

For more planting recommendations and information on desert landscape, check out Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert by the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AZMUA).