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4. Ask a Desert Gardener, Mar 2024

Ask A Desert Gardener, March 2024

March is the first full month of the 2024 growing season. Before starting your gardening, make certain that you have properly applied any soil additives and fertilizer, re-programmed your irrigation, and removed any left-over winter related damage. Once completed, it is time to plan your “landscape strategy”.

When planning new additions or upgrades, it is important to understand factors that may affect your Las Vegas landscape.

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone for our community is 9b (30F-90F).  Combine this with the intensity of the summer sun, strong winds, and low humidity and you must give thought to what and where to plant.

Partial sun exposure means less than 4 hours per day while full sun means 6+ hours.  You must keep in mind that the most intense and damaging sun exposure occurs between 2-4pm. Look on planting instructions to ascertain each plant’s appropriateness. Just because a garden center sells a particular plant (such as hibiscus, purple plum or magnolias), it does NOT mean it will actually survive!

Names of plants can also be confusing! Sago palms are NOT palms (and do NOT like intense sunlight), Red Yucca are not yuccas, and Mexican Bird of Paradise will flourish in our gardens but Tropical Bird of Paradise will die!

No palm tree is indigenous to Nevada and none are drought-tolerant. The Mediterranean Fan Palm will do well here but the Queen Palm will be severely damaged by freezing temperatures or direct intense sunlight.

Make certain what your HOA permits before purchasing. Do NOT plant cactus, yucca or agave near pedestrian walkways where people or pets can get hurt. Do NOT plant “messy” trees such as African Sumac, Mesquite or Pepper Trees near pools or near entrances since they are constantly dropping foliage. 

When planting fruits, vegetables or flowers, make certain they receive appropriate amounts of sunshine. (all fruits and vegetables need 6+ hours while gardenias need only 2 hours). Choose your locations carefully! Look around and you’ll see palms growing above roof tops and Cypress Trees penetrating the eaves of houses! POOR LOCATIONS!


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