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Spring Planting

March 8, 2012

Spring in the desert, which means January through May, is the time to plant almost everything except spring-flowering annual seeds, which have to go in the ground in the fall.

It is still cool enough for native plants such as palo verde and cacti and non-native shrubs like oleander and lantana and bougainvilla to establish strong roots. There is also time enough for some annual flowers and vegetables to become established and bloom and produce before they burn up in the summer heat.

Sunflower

Sunflower

For vegetables such as lettuce, corn, squash, beets, you can plant seeds now. The same for summer flowers, like sunflowers.

For plants that can use a head start, or that need to flower and fruit before the hot season, you can buy seedlings or large established plants, like tomatoes, peppers, even lettuce, as well as many kinds of flowers, like snapdragons, pansies, poppies, and vinca.

Plants in the desert can grow with amazing speed. Just remember to keep them well watered, watering in the evening or early morning to conserve. It can help if your plants are mulched, or your potted plants are in large pots, so their moisture is less likely to evaporate and is more steadily available to the roots.

Wilting is a sign that plants need a steadier water supply, or they are just too hot. When the weather starts getting hotter, some plants may do better with partial shade during mid-day. Other plants can pump enough water into their leaves to keep them cool in the summer, but many (if they can survive the summer at all) will need more water and more shade.

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A beautiful looking year-round garden can result from a mixture of annuals and strubs, and native and non-native plants. Yucca, snapdragon, sunflowers for flowers, Cacti, lantana and bouganivilla for flowering shrubs, and cacti, ocotillo, and palo verde for attractive greenery or sculptural forms.

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