After the intensity of the summer heat, nighttime temperatures begin to drop. Desert plants can finally relax and begin to recuperate. Fall is an ideal time to plant, because the cooler temperatures give plants several months to adapt to their location, which can help them ensure survival for their first year. With the following tips, your garden will be happy year-round.

by Kenny Zelov, Acting Director of Horticulture



Cleanup and Pruning

Start by cleaning up and removing any plants that did not make it through the summer. Remove debris, and spruce up garden areas. Remove branches that are in the way of paths, and lift tree canopies to give light and air to understory plants. Make sure you research the best ways to prune.

Adjust Your Irrigation System

Many plants will need less water in the fall months. Depending on the type of plants you have, decrease the frequency of irrigation as temperatures drop. Around Thanksgiving, you can turn off your irrigation system for your trees, shrubs and succulents until the middle of February. Continue to give them water once a month if no winter rain has fallen.

Incorporate Rainwater Harvesting

Water harvesting is a technique that incorporates the efficient and conscientious use of rainwater runoff in the landscape. This technique helps plants look and grow better, as well as prevents water from escaping the area. Learn more about these techniques through Desert Botanical Garden classes.

Preparing for wildflowers

If you have had wildflowers in your garden in the past, new seedlings come back when the conditions are appropriate. If starting seasonal wildflowers for the first time, consider ordering native seeds that bloom in winter, spring and summer. Seeds are available at local nurseries, online or at the Garden’s Fall Plant Sale.

Sowing wildflower seeds

It is important to select a spot that will get between six to eight hours of full sun daily during the winter season. Sow the seeds evenly in the area and gently rake them into the ground to protect them against the wind and displacement from water or by animals. In October, gently hand water the area for a few minutes daily until you see that the seeds have germinated. Reduce the frequency of irrigation to weekly if there has not been enough rain to maintain the seedlings.

Create A Winter Plan

It is necessary to know which plants in your garden are susceptible to frost and to monitor frost warnings. Protect these plants with frost cloth, ensuring that the cloth reaches the ground and keeps them covered. Only cover for the duration of the frost event and then remove promptly until the next frost warning.

Photo Credit: Adam Rodriguez