Skip to main content

Southwest: January/February Gardening

An Arizona Master Gardener shares winter tips and local news

Top 5 “to do’s” list January and February:

• Prune your shrubs and trees

• Prune back your roses

• Fertilize your plants, citrus, roses & vegetables

• Cut back on irrigation

• Plant any new items

January and February are busy gardening months for us here. Our daily temperature is in the blessed 70’s so planning and planting is done now prior to the heat that can arrive as early as April.

The biggest current challenge to local gardeners: The biggest challenge of the homeowners and gardeners in our area is, once again, our arid environment. Almost everyone here is from another part of the country and is therefore used to soil. We have no real soil here; any soil we do have is full of rocks and alkaline. Not only that, our water is also high in alkalinity, which means whatever you do plant had better like salt. So our most asked question is two fold: What do I plant and how do I water? Native desert plants are recommended and we are fortunate that we have many beautiful plants to choose from. These plants have low water needs, which is becoming more important with the water conservation measures coming into our state

About Dottie: My husband and I retired here in 1997 from Southern California, where you can grow just about anything. I knew that I needed to know what gardening would entail in our new desert environment. The University of Arizona, Mohave County Cooperative Extension offers their Urban Home Horticulture course once a year. This 12-week course is a requirement in order to enter the Master Gardener Program. So I took the course and decided to become a Master Gardener. Now in my 11th year, I have “raked in” 1,670 volunteer hours and 340 additional education hours.

About gardening in this region: What I have enjoyed most about being a Master Gardener is showing people that 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 (iris, ranunculus and narcissus all do well here). Both of these gardens are enjoyed September through June/July. In July, August and part of September we range from 110 to 120 degrees during the day and many times we remain in the low 100’s at night. So not only do we hibernate from the heat during these months but so do our plants. During this period I enjoy quilting, boating on the lake and traveling out of town to car shows in our 1957 Nomad and 1969 Camaro.

Needless to say, gardening in our unique area is challenging but rewarding at the same time. Our beautiful Arizona sunsets outlined with our plateau mountains along with saguaro cacti, mesquite trees and a variety of other native plants makes you realize that beauty can be found in even the harshest areas.

Mohave County Cooperative Extension