A Master Gardener's guide to gardening in a hot dry climate
Hot Gardens Newsletter: April 2005
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The Natural Butterfly Garden. The heavy
rains we experienced this winter have given way to a
gorgeous seas of flowers in our Southwestern deserts.
The most amazing and rare bloom
is at the southern end of Death Valley where acres and
acres of flowers are accompanied by millions of Painted
Lady butterflies. And these butterflies seems to be
everywhere across Arizona, Nevada, Utah -- even as far
away as southern California beach towns. The Painted
Lady butterflies are, in fact, found on every continent,
but this year there are an abundance of them. (If you
are reading this in late April, unfortunately, the
wildflower bloom in Death Valley will be over.)
For more about gardens for butterflies and bees,
Add color to your garden in
South African aloes
in bloom at the Los Angeles Arboretum. In late
winter when most of the Arboretum was drab these
hardy plants put on an astonishing and gorgeous
show. This giant aloe is the
Another plant that blooms in late winter are the
intensely purple flowers of the
Vine (Hardenbergia) . We also think of
them as early signs of spring.
Washed Out. The
winter rain washed away the damaging salts which accumulate
naturally in our poor soil. That is the good news. The bad
news is that the drenching rains also washed away many
nutrients. You may need to increase the frequency with
which you fertilize your garden. Please note: do not
increase the amount of fertilizer you use at any one time,
just fertilize a little more often.
Watch for signs that
your plants are suffering from "malnutrition". In
particular, if you notice that the leaves are turning yellow
while the veins stay green (a condition known as chlorosis),
you may need to use a fertilizer with micronutrients such as
iron and sulphur. Ask your local nursery or garden center
for recommendations. Adding organic amendments to your
flower beds will also help restore vital plant nutrients.
Oh Those Beautiful
Aussies. The brilliant yellow blooming
shrubs you are seeing everywhere are the
Australian-native Feathery Cassias (Cassia
artemisioides or Senna artemisioides
-- botanists don't agree about the latin name!)
They bloom early, are drought-tolerant, and look
great massed along a garden wall as a low, open
gray-green hedge, reaching only 3 to 5 feet tall.
And they are virtually carefree -- just plant them
and ignore them.
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Another plant that goes largely unnoticed until it blooms in
Spring is the Mescal Bean
Texas Mountain Laurel (Sophora secundiflora).
This native of Texas, New Mexico and northern Mexico bursts
forth with purple or lavender wisteria-like blossoms at this
time of year. Often trimmed to a tree-like shape, it grows
very slowly to 20 feet tall. The downside: its brilliant
red seed pods are poisonous so pick them up and dispose of
The Mescal Bean tree
tolerates drought, poor soil, wind, cold, heat and
keeps on looking great and green year 'round. In
Spring it has lovely wisteria-like blooms.
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More gardening news for you
|For Fall color
plant a Fan Tex ash 'Rio Grande'.
Other leafy trees are
|Clematis is one of
beautiful vines to grow
in hot dry climates.
|Preview the many gardens
the Mission Rose Garden.
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