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February 2013 Gardening Checklist for Arizona’s Mid and High Elevations

Author: Cathy Cromell
Issue: February, 2013, Page 120


(Mid Elevations)
Bare-root and container-grown trees, shrubs and roses—Transplant now through March.

Wildflowers—Sow spring- and summer-blooming wildflowers, such as aster, blanket flower, black-eyed Susan, blue flax, coreopsis (lanceleaf and Plains), Mexican hat (red and yellow), penstemon, purple coneflower, Rocky Mountain bee plant (Cleome serrulata), scarlet gilia (skyrocket), wild sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and yarrow. Purchase native mixes suited for varied elevations at botanical garden gift shops; through Seeds Trust, and Plants of the Southwest,; or call Tempe-based Wild Seed Inc., (602) 276-3536 for a free catalog.

(Mid Elevations)
Prune deciduous trees, roses and fruits—Effective pruning maximizes fruit production on blackberries, deciduous fruit trees and grapes. Check for pruning demonstrations through your County Cooperative Extension office and local gardening clubs.

Inhibit the spread of cypress bark beetle—These native insects breed in dead or dying branches and trunks of Arizona cypress, Leyland cypress and native juniper. Although they are a natural component of the ecosystem—acting as “thinning crews” to remove dead plant material—in times of drought stress, their population swells and they may move into your healthy landscape trees. Remove any cypress, pine or junipers in your yard that were killed by bark beetles, and prune dead branches in winter, before beetles become active with warm temperatures.

Rejuvenate ornamental grasses and blooming shrubs—Trim ornamental grasses back to 4 to 6 inches above ground. They will respond quickly with new shoots. (Pruning late, rather than in fall, allows eye-catching seed heads to remain in your landscape for winter interest.) If butterfly bush and salvia look woody or scraggly, cut them back severely to encourage new growth and bloom.

(Mid and High Elevations)
Take a closer look—As temperatures warm, green shoots begin to poke through mulch on perennial and bulb beds. If a late frost is predicted, protect tender plant tips with mulch or frost cloth. Turn these early signs of spring into an ongoing “treasure hunt” with children, encouraging them to keep tabs on changes. Who will be the first to find tiny snowdrops in bloom?

Grow Smart—The 20th-Annual High Desert Gardening & Landscaping Conference takes place Feb. 14 and 15 in Sierra Vista, Ariz. Sponsored by University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Cochise County Master Gardeners, varied topics cover edibles, native plants and sustainable landscaping practices. For registration, go to, or phone (520) 458-8278, Ext. 2176.

Cathy Cromell is a Master Gardener and co-author of Earth-Friendly Desert Gardening (Arizona Master Gardener Press).
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