It’s time to get your garden ready for the burst of spring growth.
Plant color annuals such as pansies, petunias, larkspur, primrose, poppy, stock, violas, alyssum,snapdragon and marigolds. Plant native or desert-adapted plants such as desert marigold, penstemon, sage and evening primrose, which are hardy enough to withstand the cold nights but benefit from extra time in the ground to establish roots. Start a new crop of cool-season vegetables, such as root vegetables, peas, leafy greens, kale and bunching onions.
Fertilize citrus, lawns, grapes and deciduous trees. Citrus fertilizers are formulated especially to provide a source of nitrogen. Fertilize roses with a slow-release fertilizer containing nitrogen and phosphorous around mid-month to encourage blooms by April. Fertilize non-native plants just as they begin active growth. Wait to fertilize tender tropicals until danger of frost is over. Natives generally do not need fertilizer.
Tomatoes must be transplanted early enough to develop roots, flower and set fruit before hot weather arrives. Plant mid-month but watch for frost and cover for protection until mid-March.
Wait until new shoots emerge on frost-damaged plants. Cut back ornamental grasses.
Water citrus deeply every three weeks. Watch shallow-rooted newly planted annuals, which can quickly dry out with spring winds. Adjust watering schedule according to winter rains.
Continue to harvest citrus. However, Valencia oranges are just starting to sweeten and grapefruit continues to sweeten for several months.
Tip of the Month
Citrus can be planted year-round, but the best times are from late February into April. Small trees, in 15-gallon containers, are easier to plant and have less risk of transplant shock. Purchase citrus from a reputable nursery that grows trees for the local market. Due to water concerns and smaller gardens, dwarf and semi-dwarf trees have become increasingly popular. When removing the plant from its container, the soil should be damp so the root ball holds together. Plant in a hole twice the width of the root ball and the same depth. Mix desert soil with organic soil amendments. Fill the hole with amended soil and let the hose run slowly until the water fills the hole, which should force air pockets out. Add more soil to completely fill the hole. Citrus trees thrive where they are allowed to develop deep roots and have good drainage. Water twice a week until the tree begins to show new growth. After that, it needs to dry out between sessions of deep watering.