It’s time to get your garden ready for the burst of spring growth.
Plant color annuals after mid-month
such as zinnia, periwinkle, globe amaranth, verbena and portulaca.
Sow seeds for warm-season vegetables: okra, melon, squash, corn
and cucumbers. Plant desert-adapted trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, cacti and succulents. Plant container-grown roses and citrus.
Apply nitrogen to fruit trees when
buds begin to swell. Add compost and well-composted manure to vegetable beds. Give established plants a dose of balanced organic fertilizer. Fertilize roses every six weeks to prepare for spring bloom. Fertilize established fig trees now.
Transplant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and globe artichokes.
Propagate from existing succulent
cuttings. Divide and plant agave, yucca and aloe offshoots. Set out strawberries, which grow best in raised beds to help prevent salt
accumulation. Transplant basil, chamomile, chives, epazote, feverfew,
lavender, oregano, lemon grass,
rosemary, sage and santolina.
Deadhead the last of the winter
annuals. Prune off frost-damaged foliage from bougainvillea, dalea, hibiscus, lantana, oleander and other tender shrubs. Prune perennial herbs by one-third after mid-March.
Prune Texas Ranger, red bird of paradise, mountain marigold and chuparosa to encourage new growth.
Cut back ornamental grasses to the ground. Remove side-buds on hybrid roses and center buds on floribundas to promote larger flowers.
As temperatures warm adjust drip-irrigation systems to accommodate new plants. Water citrus every 10-14 days. Watch container plantings for drying out in March winds.
Tip of the Month
Herbs are versatile plants that can be grown in movable containers, cattle tanks or raised garden beds.
They do best outdoors during the low desert’s cool growing season, from September through April
(although basil thrives best in warm weather). Herbs need six to eight hours of sun daily, preferably in the morning or early afternoon. Avoid planting in small pots, as the soil will heat up and dry out too quickly. When temperatures increase in late spring, annual herbs will flower and set seeds. Culinary herbs add flavor to hundreds of dishes. When chopping herbs, use a sharp knife — the less you bruise them, the more flavorful they’ll be. Examples of how to use them include chopping rosemary, sage, oregano or thyme and freezing it in oil; or folding chopped thyme, rosemary or chives into soft butter (you can wrap it in plastic and refrigerate, or freeze it for later use). Spread it on bread or use the herbed butter in cooking. You also can muddle mint to add to fresh lemonade and blend with ice.