Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November Gardening in Tucson

Ah it's November and time for our monthly "To Do List" for Southern Arizona.  For me, this month is perfection in the garden as the plants seem to "glow" green.  It's our last month of happiness before winter sets in and lasts until the beginning of March.  The plants relax from the intense heat for a moment before going to sleep.  Here are some of the rules to abide by in the desert.  For permanent type plants in the landscape, like trees or shrubs, you should transplant in October or the beginning of November.  Once the colder nights arrive in December, it's about working on projects around your home and garden areas for spring.  Once the middle of March arrrives, you may begin to transplant more trees or bushes into your yard. The exception of course are the bare root roses or fruit trees.  Those are best transplanted in January or February for their chill hours.  So if you have something you need to get into the ground, do it now:)  Roses, if given the slight prune and fertilizer in September, should either be having their second and final bloom for the season or just about finishing up.  Here are some general "To Do's for the Month of November" in Tucson......
  1. Plant spring-blooming bulbs in loose, well drained soil that has been amended with plenty of organic matter.  The Christmas favorite, Amaryllis, bearded Iris, crinum, crocosmia, Dutch iris, freesia, lycoris, rain lily and watsonia are good choices.  Bulbs need excellent drainage to prevent rotting.  I usually put my bulbs in pots so that I can closely monitor the watering.  If you live on the outlying areas of Tucson, I might put something around these plants to protect them from critters digging them up:) For more info on bulbs, click here.
  2. Okay wildflower fanatics...get ready.  This is the month!!!  Wildflower seeds can still be sown if you did not have time last month.  Some local favorites include blackfoot daisy, California poppy, chocolate flower, desert bluebell, desert marigold, globemallow(my favorite) and penstemon. Important!!  Keep the soil moist(never wet) until seeds germinate and reach 1 to 2 inches in height.  Then taper off watering, providing a slow, deep soak once every few weeks, or just often enough to prevent wilting.  If winter rains are spaced adequately(which hasn't happened in a couple years), they may provide sufficient moisture.  Last year at the Tucson Botanical Garden, my wildflower friend, who is very much a wildflower gardener, had a bust.  She's been doing it forever but because it was a La Niña winter(dry for Tucson), many of the wildflowers never came up.  Our forecast this year.....the same:(.  Wildflowers are adapted to survive in desert conditions, so don't overwater.  Hint:  Birds of a feather flock together.  You may want to cover the area with bird netting to keep our winged friends out of the area.  It's a constant battle for me.  They got into my wildflowers last year and ate all the seeds!!! For more on wildflowers, click here.
  3. Finally watch your watering.  As temps cool, water needs decrease.  Over-watering promotes root rot, which ultimately kills plants. 
  4. Trim back herbs such as rosemary and oregano to rejuvenate these woody herbs.  Give them a good soaking to a depth of 1 foot.
  5. I'm guilty of this but I'm a sucker for roses.  Dead head flowers to keep them blooming until they can't anymore:)  Here's why roses are cool Tucson.  Click here.


  1. Your maintenance tasks based on the changing season sound very well-thought-out and easy to do! They also line up with what we in Abq, but different timing - your Nov 1 = Abq late-Sept; your early Mar = Abq mid-April!

    My favorite thing you said, though, was how plants "'glow' green". They really are doing that right now!

  2. Sounds like you got it down. We've had great weather. Getting cooler at night. Today is overcast and threatening to rain. Covered a couple of things not ready for winter rain.


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