As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, it’s time consider a winter gardening plan. I plant landscapes all year but gardens planted in September, October and November have the greatest success and the lowest rates of plant loss. The warm days, still climbing close to 90, and the cool nights help the plants grow at night and transpire in at night. So, if you still have some planting goals for the fall season don’t hesitate.
The cool mornings we have been enjoying remind me that we should prepare for the coming winter. Many of our Phoenix plantings take a hard hit in the winter. Personally, I like it when plants like lantana and yellow dot freeze back—it prevents them from getting too large and unmanageable. No one likes a monstrous lantana with 18” of dead wood under the flowers. If you want to prevent or limit die back cover tender plants when we get freeze warnings in the winter.
If your large bushes seem out of control trim them now. Just consider that they will send out new growth on those recently cut stems and that tender growth may die back on those cold Phoenix nights. If your bushes just need a little maintenance prune, or you are considering cutting back rulellia or an overgrown bouganvillea wait until we pass the chance of frost in February. You can cut these plants back now but you won’t see new growth until the days start getting longer so you’ll be looking at a scalped landscape for longer.
Consider fertilizing November. Most of the desert plants don’t require the extra nutrients (since they thrive in the rocky soil) but tender plants like roses, hibiscus and gardenia can use the extra nutrients of a decent compost or high quality organic fertilizer. Stay away from anything with a large percentage of nitrogen (the first number listed on the package) as it may cause excessive grow that will suffer in the colder days ahead.