Thursday, October 28, 2010

Winterizing trees, shrubs and lawns for the Southwest

Winterizing Plants for the Southwest

The year is on its’ way out already. Wow, that was fast. Now what to do in your garden?

Look for the obvious. Are some leaves starting to turn or fall on the ground? Are wayward branches causing an unbalanced look to your trees or shrubs? Do you have seed pods from various plants littering daily? Is there a plant that still needs that extra bit of fertilizer before the winter sets in?

These are all signs to be looking for when maintaining you garden. If you do these simple tasks now, the transition into spring will be much easier.

We start with the obvious. The falling leaves. If at all possible please try to incorporate these, nutrient rich, soil building, root insulating wonders of nature back into the garden. You can start a compost pile or grind them back up into and around tree wells, ground covers, flower and vegetable beds. The smaller you crush the leaves the quicker they will break down into the soil. This action will help prevent soil compaction, minimize water run off, reduce winter weeds, as well as helping to insulate tender perennials and roots.

If you have some unbalanced trees or shrubs you can do some light pruning. It is ok to remove a few branches or limbs this time of year to keep your plants neat and tidy. A good rule of thumb is to have a reason for every cut make before actually remove part of the plant. Use caution, however, you would do best to do a majority of your heavy pruning at the onset of spring instead of late fall. Doing so could stimulate tender growth which will be more susceptible to winter damage.

What is winterizing?

Seed pods hanging on a tree or shrub can mean seedlings sprouting up where you don’t want them. If you don’t mind extra plant material growing rampant, then let nature take its’ course. If you don’t want these extra plantings around, then now it is the time to remove them. It actually would have been better to remove them when they first appeared in most cases. Most flowering plants will bloom for a longer period of time if the seed pods are promptly removed.

Now is also the time to winterize your lawns trees and shrubs. A winterizer fertilizer contains a higher amount of potash. This is the last number listed on any fertilizer label.
This nutrient helps plants raise their resistance to winter damage. It also helps strengthen weak limbs and branches. Again this product is used during this time of year particularly on plants that have shown previous winter damage. It also contains nitrogen and phosphorous, which will help aid in a quick “awakening” for next spring.

The “not so obvious”, thing you can do at this time of year is to reduce watering! Please, help save our most precious commodity. You would be surprised to find out how many people over water during the cooler months of the year. I find some still water every day or even every other day during the winter months. In most cases I have found once every 10 to 14 days or even longer will suffice on most established plantings. This is a guide line only. Every landscape will have its’ own exceptions. The best thing is, “trial and error”. See how long your plants can go until they show signs of stress, without extra watering. You may be surprised how much less water your plants will actually use. Of course you would water more if our winter is dry and warm. One would water less often if we have rain or snowfall in our short winter months.

We really do have a wonderful fall/winter climate so get out there and soak up our bright winter sun!
Gary Guzman
Color Your World Greenhouse

Fall Color Trees for The Las Cruces Area

Fall Color Trees for The Southwest

Here’s a small list of trees that offer fall color in Southern New Mexico and West Texas.

The Chinese Pistache is one that takes on fall colors on its’ own. If you are picky about the fall color of a tree, this is one that may be better off chosen during the time of year that it changes. This tree can range from red, yellow, orange, pink, burgundy or any combination of the fore mentioned. The variation of color can be attributed to the genetics of each individual tree, and or the type of soil and fertilizer the tree is provided throughout the year.

Red oaks also have a beautiful fall color. The Shumard, Northern Red, or Pin Oak will do well if planted in richly amended soil, and are fertilized with acid forming fertilizer. In most cases additional amounts of iron chelate may be needed to keep these oaks thriving in our alkaline soils. If you are willing to do this for these oaks you will be rewarded with a beautiful healthy green leafed tree in the summer, and blessed with its’ brilliant red foliage in the fall.

Ash trees will also have some fall color. The Raywood Ash, which has very dark green leaves in the summer, will take on a gorges purple hue during the fall season. The Modesto, Berrinda, Bonita, and Arizona ash will generally take on a bright yellow or golden fall color. These trees are very tolerant of our alkaline soils and hot dry summers, so they make excellent trees for the gardener who prefers a low maintenance tree.

Ginkgo Biloba offers a very deep golden yellow color on a primitive looking leaf. This particular tree grows very slowly in would be very useful in an area with limited space. A named variety called Autumn Gold does not produce the smelly fruit that the non cultivated tree produces. And yes this tree is where the memory pill comes from, I almost “forgot” to mention.

Colorful fall trees for the Southwest

The Chinese Tallow is another tree that has some beautiful fall color as well. The fall colors on this tree are very striking, ranging from reds, yellows, oranges, and pinks. However this tree, when young, may suffer from some winter damage. Older more mature trees can usually withstand some of our colder months with little or no winter damage.

Las Cruces Fall Trees

Keep in mind the amount of cool weather these trees receive before the first hard frost plays a key role in the show of color. The longer our nights stay cool without dipping into well below freezing temperatures, the longer our fall show will be. Also good watering and feeding habits will help contribute to these trees’ full fall glory

Gary Guzman
Color Your World Nursery Website