Hot Crayon Zinnias from Renee's Garden Seeds.

Hot Crayon Zinnias from Renee’s Garden Seeds.

It’s been a nice spring, a bit windy, but pleasant.  But now the heat is setting in, and it is  important to remember that as we head into June we’ll face our driest month of the year. This is the toughest time of the year for plants. Here’s how to get your plants through the heat:

But, first.  You can still plant – Cucumbers, Melon, Okra, Sweet Potatoes, Eggplant, Peppers, and for some glorious color, Zinnias. They love the heat.

Mulch, mulch, mulch This helps minimize water evaporation from the soil and lowers soil temperatures.  Good mulch will also help to create a barrier for weeds.

Keep weeds at bay Nut grass and spurge are particularly prevalent this time of year – they love to follow the water. Make time in the early morning to pull the weeds. You’ll keep your plants from being choked off and you’ll save yourself a bunch of time come fall. Here’s a look at some of the most common weeds here in Arizona.

Water well Lawns will need approximately 1 inch of water per week during the hottest part of the summer, but how much water is 1 inch? A rain gauge or even an empty tin can set out while your sprinkler is running is a great way to check.  Early morning is the best time to water. Studies have shown that when you water during the hottest part of the day almost 50% of the water evaporates before it reaches the ground. Here’s a complete guide to summer watering.

Check watering  depth – Trees should be watered deeply about once every 10 days.  For most trees, water from your lawn’s sprinkler system is not enough to prevent heat stress. A good soak with a hose at the perimeter of the tree canopy works best. If you’re not sure how far into the soil the water goes, push a metal stake into your wet ground a day after watering  to check how deeply it has saturated. Deeper is better.

Control Pests – Heat stressed plants are a prime target for bugs. We get lots of calls this time of year about the best way to keep bugs at bay – on indoor plants as well as the ones outside – in a safe, non-toxic way. One great thing is to get outside every morning – early – and check your plants. Look at the undersides of leaves, check for chew marks. It’s good to know what you’re dealing with before you try and treat for anything. The best think you can do is keep your plants super healthy. A healthy plants is not nearly as susceptible to pests and one that is stressed. Here’s a link to some common pests and organic controls that can help. Here’s a link to one practice we suggest for keeping plants in great shape

Mind your mower – Practice the “the 1/3 rule when you mow by not cutting more than 1/3 of the length of the grass. Studies have shown that yards that are cropped too close actually grow quicker than their taller counterparts.  A good height for Bermuda grass is 1 ½”.  Cut it when it reaches 2 ¼”.

Prune before monsoons – Get out early in the morning and prune your desert trees to prepare them for monsoon winds. They have finished leafing out and the heat seems to heal the pruning wounds faster. Be sure and check for crossing limbs and limbs that have become intertwined. You’ll want to avoid a tangle of catching the wind during storms, creating the perfect opportunity for tree damage and breakage.  If you hire someone to trim your trees make sure that you select a certified arborist. Chances are the guy that knocks on your door with a chainsaw doesn’t have the training needed to make sure your tree looks and grows to its fullest potential. If you need a tree trimming referral, call us at 602.279.9510.