A Master Gardener's guide to gardening in a hot dry climate
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not neglect to water your garden during these colder months.
Your plants, in particular, trees, need occasional deep
watering in winter. During this season it is not the
heat, but the wind sweeping across the desert, that dries
plants out. And their roots are still growing during
much of the winter.
Winter Color. Days
may be short, blooms have withered, leaves have
fallen, but you could still have color in your garden in
winter. If you had planted a
Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia
Leucantha) earlier this year, you would have tall purple
spires blooming now and hummingbirds flocking to them from
dawn to dusk in many areas of the Southwest.
||And, of course, there are the brilliant red-orange
berries of the pyracantha, as well as the
brilliant red-orange leaves of
Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)--
both great sources for color outdoors during the darkest
months. And our friends, the birds, love the
If you had
Pomegranate (Punicacae) last
Spring you would now have big red fruit, looking
like Christmas ornaments, either on the shrub or
your table. In this photo, taken in May, both the
mature fruit and new blooms are on the plant.
The pomegranate will thrive even in cold winter/hot
summer climates if planted in a shelter place--for
example, next to a wall. It is a big shrub
that can grow to 8 or 10 feet tall.
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warmer winter areas of the desert, Phoenix and Palm Springs
for example, the
Pink Powder Puff (Calliandra
haematocephala) is already in bloom. This South
American native, another favorite of hummingbirds, is an
excellent plant to espalier against a south-facing wall.
mind that it is incredibly easy to force bulbs to grow
indoors this winter. Two of the best -- low priced and
narcissus. In recent years, commercial bulb growers
seem to have developed hybrids that take a much shorter time
from planting to blooming. If you plant today --
December 1st -- you could have Amaryllis blooms by Christmas
your Amaryllis has blossomed and faded, set it aside
until Spring when you should plant the bulb outdoors in a
sheltered corner. It may take a couple of years, but
it will bloom again -- in early Spring or summer. Alas, the delicate
Paperwhites are unlikely to survive outdoors in our hot, dry
climate. Since writing this, we have heard from a
reader in Tucson that her neighbor has Paperwhites blooming
in a herb garden as of December 1st!! It is
wonderful and amazing what will grow in a garden
indoor winter garden we suggest that you pick one single
color theme. Add other flowering plants with similar
color blooms -- cyclamens or orchids-- from your local
recommend Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) as an
excellent addition to an indoor garden. On top of being
fast-growers, this big-leafed plant produces lovely white
"flowers" and puts out the most oxygen of any indoor plant.
Go to our
for November 2003 or
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