February in Your Desert Container Garden

How do you remember our winter so far this year? Cold nights and cool days? Flowers and vegetables have been slow to grow? Only a few drops of rain if any? And, the snow we had a week ago?

Snow in the desert can be a cause for alarm. Potted Desert

Do not let a warm week in February allow you to think that winter is over. We can and most likely will have freezing temperatures this month and possibly into March. The average last frost date is March 15, and remember – That is the AVERAGE!!! We can never be sure how our plants will react to February’s warmth, followed by a potential cold spell.

So, we must watch, observe and not take any drastic action!

In the meantime, we want to enjoy our winter flowers as that is one of the main reasons we live here, right?

February Desert Container Garden Care by the Potted Desert

Additional Details for February:

Frosted or Frozen Plant Damage

  • Do not be tempted to prune back frost-damaged plants yet.
  • We need to wait until the danger of frost is over (average date March 15)
  • Watch for a surprise frost and cover tender annuals.



Mexican Lime Trees Do Well in Desert Pots

Mexican Lime Trees Do Well in Desert Pots

Fertilize your citrus around Valentine’s Day 

  1. Water both the day before and immediately after applying granular fertilizers.
  2. Use a granular fertilizer according to the directions on the package. The size and age of the trees determine how much fertilizer you use.
  3. Fertilize mature trees away from the trunk, meaning the outer two-thirds of the leaf canopy ground where the most active roots are.
  4. Give the trees a deep-soaking watering after applying the fertilizer.
  5. Newly planted trees do not need fertilizer for the first 1-2 years after planting.
  6. Note: Whether you use Ammonium Sulfate, Ammonium Phosphate, or Citrus Food fertilizer, it’s important to read the instructions because the amount of fertilizer needed per year will vary depending on the age, size, and type of citrus tree. For example, a medium-sized adult tree 5-6 years after planting needs 6.2 pounds of Ammonium Sulfate per year (split into three applications). Grapefruit trees 5 or more years after planting need half the amount of other citruses.
    Source: Pima County Master Gardener Program
  7. Continue to pick your citrus. You do not need to harvest all of the fruit just because the trees come into flower. Grapefruit and Valencia oranges will continue to sweeten while left on the trees.

Potted Plants

  1. Continue your bi-weekly fertilizing routine.
  2. Deadhead regularly and prune to shape plants.
  3. Blast your plants with a jet spray from about 4 feet away to deter pests and disease.
  4. Water potted cacti and succulents if you have not gotten ample rain. If you have registered an inch of rain in the last month, that is enough for now.

Roses (from the Rose Society of Tucson) Consider joining for $20 a year!

  1. Complete all pruning of your roses by mid-February.
  2. Once you’re done pruning, be sure to clean up all the old mulch and dead leaves and throw them in the trash, not your compost pile. Dead leaves can often have mildew spores and other diseases on them that can infest your compost pile and create problems later on.
  3. Apply both pesticides and fungicides to your pruned roses and the soil in the pots. Fungus spores such as mildew can live through the winter in your soil.
  4. Apply long-term or organic fertilizer, such as Max Magic Mix, Bandini Rose Food, or homemade compost. Also, it helps to add superphosphate at this time and apply half a cup of Epsom salts. Scratch it into the soil and water it thoroughly.
  5. Two weeks following the long-term fertilizing, begin your regular short-term or liquid fertilizing program using a water-soluble fertilizer such as Rapid Gro or Miracle-Gro.
  6. Once growth appears, start in on your hose jet-spray regime to keep the aphids and mildew away.
  7. Continue to water your roses. As daytime temperatures increase, increase your watering frequency, making sure the pot drains with each watering.

Have a beautiful month! February and March are our spring months, and we want to get out and enjoy our splendid winter gardens!

A desert bed planted for winter

Petunias, Poppies and Dianthus take up a lot of room in this desert winter flower bed

~ Marylee