Southwest Gardener's April Checklist

The American Southwest is a vast Place, covering Most of Arizona and New Mexico as well as Elements of California, Nevada, Texas and Utah. The areas of the Southwest are diverse and include low deserts, high deserts and mountainous areas, covering USDA zones 5 though 9.

The browns of winter have given way to bright green. Leaves are emerging on trees, shrubs and more. April is a superb time for desert anglers to add plants to the landscape and container plantings that are reimagine. With the warmer weather, irrigation controllers will need to get checked, weeds pulled and any residual frost-damaged plants pruned.

Gardeners in upper elevations can sow cool-season vegetable seeds outside, plant bare-root roses and lean fruit as it appears on trees.

Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting

All Desert Regions

Adjust the irrigation schedule.
As temperatures rise, so do the water requirements of crops. Watering schedules will need to change with the season. How deeply you water can be significant. Water to a depth of 3 ft and shrubs to 2 feet, allowing the soil dry between waterings.

A simple method to ascertain how deeply you’re watering would be to take a piece of rebar and stick it in the soil once you have watered. The rebar should go down smoothly until it hits dry soil. Pull it out and then measure just how deep the water has penetrated; fix how long you water until you get to the perfect depth.

Revealed: The Living Desert in Palm Desert, California

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Low, Mid- and High Deserts

Warm up landscape color for spring by planting yellow flowering plants such as angelita daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis), desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata), feathery cassia (Senna artemisoides) and damianita (Chrysactinia mexicana).

Revealed: Angelita daisy

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Grow vines as ground covers. Vines aren’t just for climbing up walls and fences. They make great ground covers. Consider growing Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens), purple lilac blossom (Hardenbergia violaceae), Lady Banks (Rose banksiae) or trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) on the ground.

Revealed: Purple lilac blossom

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Plant herbs in containers. Can you love fresh herbs? Plant a collection of your favorites, including basil, rosemary, sage and thyme.

Employ a slow-release fertilizer when planting your herbs, which is all the fertilizer they’ll need for your season. Additionally, herbs don’t like too much water. A simple method to ascertain if your herbs want water would be to stick your finger into the soil until it reaches to your next knuckle. Water when it’s dry.

Revealed: Basil, purple basil, rosemary, sage and chamomile

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Attempt a succulent as a container plant. Containers aren’t only for flowering annuals. Succulents make great container plants. They’re low maintenance and supply great feel by using their columnar, spiky contours.

Agave, barrel cacti and columnar cacti are good options for containers. Set them against a wall or flanking an entryway for greatest effect.

Well-drained soil is a must for succulents, so be sure to use a soil mix that’s specially formulated for succulents. Ensure that your pot has holes for drainage also. Water every one or two weeks in summer, depending on your succulent’s water needs and the weather.

Revealed: Smaller succulents flank a potted Mexican fence post cactus.

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Plant warm-season annuals. Increasing temperatures mean it’s time to switch out of your cool-season annuals for the ones that will flourish in our warm desert summers.

Celosia, blue salvia (Salvia farinacea ‘Victoria Blue’), red salvia (Salvia splendens), moss rose (Portulaca grandiflora) and vinca (Catharanthus roseus) are great options for a beautiful bed of flowering annuals that can take care of the desert heat.

Before planting, amend the soil with 2 to 3 inches of compost and then add a slow-release mulch, which will help keep annuals flowering throughout the summer. You can also add liquid fertilizer every other week, but you should be cautious to not get fertilizer on the leaves, because it can burn off them during warm weather.

Revealed: Blue salvia

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Upper Elevations (over 6,000 ft)

little fruit trees. After fruit begins to form in your trees, it’s time to thin them by eliminating excess fruit. Apple, apricot, peach and plum trees have a limited number of resources to devote to fruit production. Selectively removing fruit can help to channel the sources to the remaining fruit, which will grow bigger. Thin the fruit in your trees so there is approximately 6 inches between each fruit.

Revealed: Apricots before thinning

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Sow cool-season vegetable seeds. It is time to get into the vegetable garden and begin sowing your favorite cool-season vegetables. Broccoli, carrots, chard, lettuce, radishes and lettuce can be directly sown from seed in your garden.

Before planting, work 2 to 3 inches of compost into the soil. It’s also wise to incorporate blood meal and bonemeal (after the package instructions), which are natural sources of phosphorus and nitrogen.

Whenever it’s still too early to plant tomatoes outside, it’s the right time to start them from seed indoors.

Revealed: Radish seedlings

Noelle Johnson Landscape Consulting

Plant bare-root roses. Can you envision a garden full of fragrant roses? Select tier 1 roses, which have three large canes (branches), whenever possible. Soak your roses for at least 24 hours prior to planting.

Amend the soil with compost; mix it with the existing soil so you have 50 percent compost and 50 percent native soil.

Don’t fertilize newly planted roses; they need time to grow roots until they can encourage a good deal of new growth. Wait before adding fertilizer until the first flowers have surfaced.

Prepare for May. The temperatures are heating up quickly. The cacti are starting to flower, meaning that it’s time to heatproof your garden for the summer.

Revealed: Medallion hybrid tea rose

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