Shady Way Gardens Bits and Briefs June 2001
MESQUITES, DESERT WILLOWS & WATERING

June

June is traditionally one of the hottest and driest months of the year.  The heat and low humidity is stressful for all plants, people and animals.  Usually there is very little cloud cover to moderate the sunís rays.  It is not a month that inspires gardening.  Newly planted or small Agaves (Century Plants), Yuccas & Cactus may need shading and will definitely need frequent watering.  Sprinkling any plant with cool hose water during midday will cool plants and helps prevent burning and yellowing ( a sign of too little water, too much sun, or both).  In our experience, watering plants during intense sunlight does no damage to the plants but greatly reduces heat stress.  Plants can , however, be damaged or killed by hot hose water running into root zone.  Make sure water running into basins is fast enough or that hose is short enough  to keep water cool; or water at night.  Deep watering of established trees and shrubs is very important now.  Young or unestablished Palms are not drought resistant so will need frequent watering.  All trees, shrubs, flowers, veggies planted in June need constant monitoring for water needs.  To survive, some plants may need hose watering 1-2 times a day, especially if surrounding soil is dry.  Donít trust drip systems to take care of newly installed plants.  In order to avoid root injury or even plant death, fertilize lightly or not at all during extreme temperatures.

ROSES

Roses in full sun probably look fairly worn out now with burned, yellow leaves & small, shriveled flowers.  Youíll have to live with some of this look through the summer.  Organic mulch under bushes will conserve moisture and cool roots.  Give light applications of rosefood & do minimal pruning to remove dead flowers, remembering to cut stem just above a leaf with 5 leaflets.

HERBS

Herbs such as Lavender and Cooking Sage are tricky at best to keep alive through the summer months.  They appreciate afternoon shade and are very susceptible to overwatering.  They lose their lush look of spring and winter and should not be pruned during hot months.

VEGETABLES

Squash, Melon, Gourd and other vegetable vines may wilt down during the hottest part of the day but will perk up when it cools down,.  Plants that remain wilted all of the time may need more water or be infested with borers.  You can plant squash and melon seeds directly in the ground now for best results.

MESQUITES

The beautiful, green, spreading Mesquites you see everywhere in landscaped areas, along freeways, in common areas etc are from South America and are referred to as Chilean Mesquites or sometimes Argentine Mesquites.  There is a vast array of forms and hybrids.  Each tree is different unless itís a special trademarked variety  such as ĎPhoenixí.  Thorns range from none to huge monstrous things that are ornamental  but very wicked.  Most people prefer thornless Chilean Mesquites but thorny trees seem to grow faster and to be more robust in general.  When left to their own devices (not heavily pruned) these trees make great screens and barriers.  All Mesquites drop most of their leaves in winter and are one of the latest trees to releaf in  spring (April).  Also, all drop seedpods in mid summer.  Mesquites in natural desert and areas unspoiled by man are Arizona Native Mesquites which range from large shrubs in shallow soils to large trees in washes and along riverbanks.  These trees are wonderful wildlife plants.  They lose leaves completely in winter.  Seedpods are edible and were extensively used by native peoples. 

DESERT WILLOWS

Desert Willows (Chilopsis linearis) have been blooming since April with their orchid like flowers ranging from white to deep maroon.  Pruned into a single trunk or allowed to develop multiple trunks, Desert Willows are small , native trees that provide summer color and attract humming birds.  Unfortunately, like all of us, they donít look good all the time.  In winter leaves drop, and the seed pods, which look like dead leaves, hang on.  This is the winter look that reminds us that there are seasons in the desert.  One variety, 'Lois Adamsí supposedly has fewer seedpods.  The variety ĎWarren Jonesí has darker leaves, which stay on the trees longer into winter.

MONK'S PEPPER

Monkís Pepper, Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) is another small, multi-trunked tree which will be blooming through the summer.  It is deciduous (loses leaves) in the winter, again reminding us that we have seasons here.  Flowers are dark blue (most popular) through lavender to white. Leaves are aromatic.  Powdered seeds were said to dampen sexual desires hence the common name. Small trees have great Bonsai potential.

APACHE PLUME

Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa) is an underused native plant.  Appreciated by wildlife, itís a dense shrub growing to about 6í or less if kept trimmed.  It has no thorns(!) and always seems to have its small, white wild rose type flowers, beautiful feathery seed heads or both.  Once established, Apache Plume is quite drought resistant.

CASSIAS

Lightly trim Cassias to remove seedpods and to keep plants compact.  Mexican Primrose have been beautiful all spring  but can look ratty in summer.  Cut back & give more water to improve appearance or just let the natural look prevail.  Plants blooming in June around town include Oleanders, Birds-of-Paradise, Lantana, Yellow Bells, Ruellia, Little Leaf Cordia (white flowers, grey leaves), Desert Spoon, Yuccas, Hesperaloes. 

HOW TO IDENTIFY PLANT PROBLEMS
  1. Know what the plant is or bring a sample into the nursery

  2. Know watering, fertilizing, spraying routine

  3. Look for insects or other evidence

  4. Be open minded about what might be the cause of the problem

Any feedback on Bobcat or Coyote urine as a rabbit deterrent??

BITS & BRIEFS OBSERVATIONS

Possible confusion may exist between a native plant and a drought tolerant plant.  A plant native or indigenous to Arizona may grow in the mountains or along river banks and is not necessarily drought tolerant.  Commonly used drought tolerant plants come from many arid regions of the world.  From Australia we have Cassias, Acacias, Emu Bushes, Bottlebrushes, Eucalyptus, Bottle Trees,  From South America, Chilean Mesquites, Jacarandas.  From Mexico, Birds of Paradise, Ruellia, Red Fairy Duster; From Texas Cordias, Mescal Bean, Leucophyllums (Texas Sages), Daleas.  Commonly used Arizona natives include; Pink Fairy Duster, Creosote Bush, Green Hop Bush, Yellow Bells, Desert Lavender, Jojoba, Turpentine Bush, Bursage, Desert Mallow, Palo Verdes, Ironwood, Lysiloma, Desert Willow.

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Web Comments george@mswn.com September 13, 2004 © Shady Way Nursery 2004