A common question
It’s a two-part question: What do I plant and how do I water? Native desert plants with low water needs are recommended. As for watering, people think it’s necessary to water for 10 minutes everyday. This is not true; watering should be long but less frequent so that the water can soak down into the root zone and not just moisten the top inch of soil. Setting irrigation for 20-40 minutes once a week is better for the plants than giving them little sips of water every day.
Top 5 to-do’s in March and April
- Prune shrubs and trees.
- Cleanup around all the plants.
- Fertilize plants, roses and vegetables (not citrus).
- Re-adjust irrigation.
- Mow Bermuda grass close for summer encouragement.
Arizona gardeners’ biggest challenge
Our arid environment. Almost everyone here is from another part of the country and is more familiar with soil—you know, the black/brown stuff. What little soil we do have is full of rocks and alkaline. Plus our water is high in alkalinity, which means we had better plant specimens that like salt. The University of Arizona along with the Mohave County Master Gardeners wrote and published a Low-Water Tree and Plant Guide for Water Wise Communities depicting landscape plants for Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City regions only. That provides great help to residents.
About gardening in Arizona
Even in our arid desert you can grow so many variety of plants, you just need to approach gardening in a different way. I have two favorite gardening areas on our property, my raised bed vegetable garden (our season starts in September, as soon as we are below 100 degrees) and my flower/bulb/iris garden (irises, ranunculas and daffodils all do well here). Both of these gardens are enjoyed nine months out of the year (September through June/July). Then in July, August and part of September it gets just a “tad” warm here—we range from 110 to 120 degrees during the day and many times we remain in the low 100s at night (the hottest temperature since I have been here was 127!). So not only do we hibernate from the heat during these months, but so do our plants.
My husband and I retired here in 1997 from Southern California where you can grow just about anything. Therefore, I knew that I needed to know what gardening would entail in our new desert environment. So I took the Master Gardener course. During the hottest time of year, I enjoy my other hobby, quilting; boating on the lake and traveling out of town to car shows in our 1957 Nomad and 1969 Camaro.