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5. Ask a Desert Gardener, Feb 2024

In February there are numerous activities that we should do to prepare for the approaching growing season.

2024, being a leap year, affords us an additional day to the four weeks we have to complete these tasks.

Week 1: Go into your garden and start cleaning up any “winter debris”. Prune unwanted and damaged branches, leaves and stems. Before actual budding begins, treat trees, if necessary, with dormant oil spray to kill any eggs or larvae that may develop into boring or sucking insects that will attack your trees and bushes in the coming months. I recommend neem oil which can be used as both a dormant spray now as well as a foliar spray during the growing seasons.  

Next, be proactive and treat your soil with systemic insecticide to prevent root-eating grubs. Apply directly to the soil surrounding agave, yucca and flowering plants. This insecticide is absorbed through the root system and protects (sort of like a vaccination) against a variety of damaging insects. Remember, however, not to treat plants that you intend to eat in the near future.

Week 2: Aerate the soil, check drip systems, and to add mulch where needed. It is   time to fertilize all succulents, fruit trees and blossoming bushes. Treat your roses with a solution of Epsom Salt as well as high phosphorus plant food to stimulate flowering. Remember, however, that palm trees should not be fertilized until late Spring. In addition, apply sulfur to your soil to lower pH levels caused by alkali buildup during the winter. 

Plan to visit the garden nurseries since the new Spring shipments will be arriving shortly.

Week 3: By now, leaf and flower budding will have started. WARNING: Even a brief cold spell can damage budding and prevent fruit development.  

Nurseries should be receiving their new stock so plan to visit and start planting!

Week 4: If you are planning on growing vegetables, this is the time that nurseries will be receiving palettes of vegetables and tomatoes.  If you are unsure of which varieties do best in our area, call the Master Gardeners’ Hotline (702-257-555) for advice.

Have any questions? Contact me at:

Howard Galin is a University of Nevada certified Master Gardener and the Chair of the SCA Garden Club House Call Program.