How does your garden grow?

Louise Grabell, Pinal County Master Gardener

OK, so winter was cold…and snowy. Better than the Midwest? Better than the Northeast? Alaska? Stop complaining. It’s better here! And spring is in the air, most definitely. I am busy getting my garden beds in good shape for this season’s annuals. Some of my beds have wooden bases and they’ve not faired too well in the rough winter. Some of them have rotted so I’m wondering if I’ll need to replace them. Same goes for my fences, the bases are starting to become damaged so I’m looking into who offers fence repair in Simi Valley so I can get it started. If the garden beds aren’t prepped before planting, it’s not going to send well for your garden!

While I do have many perennials, I love the profuse blooms of summer annuals like zinnias and marigolds, etc. Among the perennials I have, and I am including my daffodils even though they are just bulbs, I relish the prospect of the flowers from my irises, daylilies, blue salvia, amaryllis, gladiolas and penstemons, just to name a few. Sounds like a botanical garden, eh?

I also grow some tomatoes in a container for my grandchildren to eat while visiting.

This is the perfect time of year to amend your garden soil, remove last year’s leftovers and clean out those pesky weeds. No need to fertilize just yet. Adding soil amendments will take care of that for all your new plantings. Wait about a month for new roots to establish before applying any fertilizer. New tree and shrub plantings should not be fertilized for a year. And get those new trees and shrubs in the ground quickly so roots can establish before the heat of June arrives.

Talking about all these new plants we are going to invite to our gardens reminds me to remind you to be alert to the plethora of trees, shrubs, succulents and cacti that arrive here from California. If you do take a liking to something West-Coast grown, plant it in cool weather so it can adjust not only to our sunshine but to our lack of humidity. California growers cannot create high desert conditions, so we must choose plants carefully. Be alert to varieties that are sold here in garden centers that do not grow here. Most broad-leaf shrubs and trees will not survive in the desert. Those beautiful impatiens sold by the dozen don’t belong in the desert. They require shade and humidity. Geraniums are okay for spring, but not in full sun. They don’t do well in summer and if you wanted a container full of gorgeous geranium blooms all season, fugedabout it! Try vinca for guaranteed success.

If you want to add cacti or succulents to your estate, visit a local cactus or native-plants nursery. You will pay a bit more, but whatever you buy will already be acclimated to our high desert climate. The other garden centers bring in cacti and succulents from California and these will need to be covered (in the case of cactus) or planted in strictly shady areas (in the case of succulents). Even California-grown Agaves will need time to adapt to Arizona sunshine. Plant wisely and you won’t have to replant again!

Master Gardeners invite you to visit their website: for all up-to-date information and events for your community. Garden questions? You can reach our very own Garden Helpline by calling Pat at 407-6459.

Remember, nothing brings more tranquility to the heart than a beautiful garden.