Looking at Sun City Anthem through the eyes of its independent minded resident community.
Sun City Anthem
The Garden Wizard
How to Grow Your Own !
Have you ever wondered where tea comes from, and if you would be able to grow some tea at home?
Believe it or not tea can be grown at home, just like any other plant. All that is really required is to learn a little bit about the basics before you begin.
Here are a few simple guidelines that are designed to help you begin growing tea at home.
1. Select the plants.
Probably the single biggest challenge to growing tea at home is choosing the tea to grow.
Tea comes from a surprisingly large number of sources. Some great examples that you can use to grow your own tea would be plants such as peppermint, lavender, lemon verbena, and marjoram.
Lemon Verbena plant
All of these are fairly hearty plants which can grow in just about all growing zones.
If you want to grow other kinds of plants for tea, then be sure that you know the proper growing zones and their care before planting them.
2. Start the plants indoors.
When ever you begin growing some plants for tea, you should always start growing them indoors. This will allow you to take better care of them, while also giving them a greater chance at success.
If you will be transferring the plants outside, be sure that you begin the plants a minimum of six weeks prior to their ideal growing season.
This will allow the plant to get a really great start at life before having to face the harsh outdoors environment.
3. Select the location.
Whether you are growing your plants indoors or out, you will need to take some time to select the proper location.
Most plants require at least six hours of direct sunlight, so be sure to choose an area that will give that amount of sunlight.
In addition to this, you should also choose an area that will protect the plant to some extent. For example, if you growing the plants indoors, choose an area that will keep the plant out of direct traffic, but not some place which will allow you to forget about the plant.
4. Maintain the plants.
Once you have started the plant and placed it in its correct location, you will need to maintain it.
This means checking to ensure that weeds, bugs, illness, or some other problem isn't damaging the plant.
You should also be sure that you are feeding the plant properly, as well as watering it regularly.
This also applies if you are growing the plant indoors as well as outdoors.
Insects are extremely difficult to deal with, since they are small and tenacious, and many love to eat your plants. It is extremely difficult to get rid of insects without using insecticides, but many insecticides can be hazardous to your plants' health or your own.
Depending on the types of insects you are dealing with, there are various ways to get rid of them.
One more way is found here. It is a natural, homemade insecticide that can kill insects but is not as harmful as using most manufactured insecticides.
If you want to make your own natural insecticide for both house and garden, all you need is two tablespoons of liquid soap and one quart of water.
Just mix the little bit of soap with the water.
You can try to sprinkle the mixture on the plants directly, but it will probably be easier to put the mixture in a spray bottle.
If you use the spray bottle, you should be sure to spray the plants evenly.
If you see any bugs, aim directly at the pests to get the best results.
Liquid soap with water should work well, but if you want to use something a little stronger, look to these great solutions.
For this natural-based alternative, all you will need is a couple of ingredients you can get at any grocery store.
The list of ingredients are as follows:
1 bulb of garlic
1 small onion
1 tablespoon cayenne (red) pepper
2 tablespoons liquid soap
1 quart water
All you need to do to make this environmentally friendly insecticide is first, finely chop the onion and the garlic, and then mix them with the tap water.
Add the cayenne pepper and, after letting the mixture sit for one hour, mix in the soap.
Finally, mix well.
When the foam subsides, strain the mixture into your spray bottle.
You can store the mixture for one to two weeks if you keep it refrigerated.
The Garden Wizard
Ideas for Low Maintenance Home Plants
It seems like no matter what some people do, they always end up killing their houseplants.
That is until some plants can be found that are willing to be very forgiving to those who don't exactly have a green thumb.
The following are those that seem to be the lowest maintenance houseplants around; in fact, some of these plants even act as if they thrive off of the lack of general care knowledge that many plants need.
This wonderful plant can actually live at temperatures over 86 degrees Fahrenheit for long periods of time.
It will shed off old blooms naturally, so there is little need for picking or trimming.
This particular type of houseplant is also very forgiving in low water situations. T
hat being said, you still need to make sure that the soil remains as damp as possible to ensure that it does the best it can.
New Guinea Impatiens
This particular type of impatiens is a very versatile plant. For example, this plant will continue to grow even if it only receives four to six hours of sun.
This means that it will grow on any side of the house, or even inside the home.
Pretty much as long as the plant is within spitting distance of a window it will be getting enough light to grow well.
Probably one of the best possible flowers that you can have around the home, inside or out. This beautiful plant comes in dozens of different colors that are really easy to maintain.
When the colorful blooms begin to fade, all you need to do is snip off the fading blooms, which will then encourage the remaining flowers to bloom more.
This is one of those wonderful drought resistant plants that has a wonderful green look with delicate looking blossoms.
Euphorbia requires very little care, and is another plant that can shed its own blossoms itself.
Another of the major benefits that this plant provides is that if you happen to have this plant outside it will be left alone by animals.
Sweet Potato Vine
One of the wonderful things about this plant is that it can be planted in anything from partial shade to full sun.
This means that you will have a wide variety of places in which you can place this wonderful ornamental plant.
Another of the benefits of this easy to care for plant is that it comes in a wide variety of dramatic colors such as lime green, deep purple, and bronze.
This plant also grows quickly and will cascade beautifully over the edges of any pots that you plant it in.
Unlike most vines though, it will not grow along trellises or walls, and will continue to thrive even if the temperature stays above 86 degrees Fahrenheit for long periods of time.
The Garden Wizard
Shrubs & Security Go Hand in Hand
Shrubs can make a great decoration for your lawn, since they can add color and shape to something that is naturally flat and all one color of grassy green.
Although shrubs are generally a great item from a decoration point of view, they should not be grown everywhere.
One very important thing that you need to consider while you are taking care of this foliage is the home security of using shrubs.
Many people in the world today love their privacy. We go to great measures to insure that no one can see into our house, and sometimes even into our yard.
Unfortunately, these measures can sometimes allow burglars to have easy access to our homes.
Make sure that your shrubs do not create an easy hiding place for burglars, and you should also not have your shrubs covering up windows, since that makes an easy entrance for someone who wants to rob your home.
Another security issue you should consider with your shrubs is if they are blocking exterior lighting.
While good lighting does not guarantee that no one will break into your house, it does act as a deterrent, since your neighbors can easily see what is happening in your yard.
If your shrubs are covering up the lights, then burglars have a great place to sneak through.
Finally, there is one thing that shrubs can do to help your home security.
If you are trying to decide what kind of shrubs to plant, consider thorny shrubs.
Thick, thorny rose bushes act as a great deterrent for sneaking through, and using these bushes on your side could help keep at least part of your house safe.
Pruning Desert Shrubs in Southern Nevada-Type Climates
Pruning is an important part of landscape maintenance. Pruning may be straightforward and quite simple.
However, poor or incorrect pruning will often lead to serious problems, including premature death of the plant.
REASONS FOR PRUNING
Maintain height and width
Rejuvenate old shrubs
To Remove Damage from cold, heat, and unwanted sprouts.
To provide clearance for vehicles, pedestrians, and windows.
To promote new growth and better health, better flowering, and less yard waste.
To improve landscaping aesthetics.
GOOD PRUNING BEGINS WITH CORRECT PLANT SELECTION AND PLACEMENT
Pruning Desert Shrubs
Pruning shrubs begins long before the clippers are taken out.
It is important to choose the correct plant for the right place.
Never plant a shrub, cactus or ornamental grass that reaches heights above what is desired at mature height.
For example, if a 3-foot shrub is needed in front of a window, don’t plant one that reaches a height of 15 or 20 feet.
If done on a regular basis, most desert plants only take a few minutes to prune.
Poor pruning of shrubs can cause many problems in the landscape.
Long-term pruning into balls and squares produces plants with very little green or live leaves on the outer extremities, while the interior consists mostly of dead leaves and twigs.
When shrubs are incorrectly pruned into balls and squares, live growth is left on the outer edges, and a barren interior is created.
This form of pruning also causes problems when drastic size reduction must be done.
It exposes the old woody interior, and in some cases the shrub does not rejuvenate.
It may take some time for this stark barren interior to be covered with new growth.
Over pruning also creates unnecessary yard waste.
New growth sprouts where the plant was cut.
If a shrub is cut at the same spot over and over again, a live exterior and leafless interior will result.
Correct pruning in a more natural manner is done by reaching into the plant’s interior and pruning off the longest branches to bring the overall plant down to the desired height.
New sprouts will form where the cuts are made.
Pruning into balls and squares can also cause poor plant health.
Leaves produce food for the plant through the process of photosynthesis.
The fewer leaves a plant has, the more it struggles to produce enough food to remain healthy.
This type of pruning also eliminates flower buds.
Many shrubs are planted for their beautiful flowers.
Frequent shearing of shrubs in geometricshapes removes the majority of the potential flowers.
Pruning shrubs into their natural, open shapes not only promotes health, but also produces a better display of flowers.
This is especially true for some desert shrubs such as Leucophyllum (Texas ranger), which has a tendency to spontaneously burst into bloom during rain or high humidity.
Constantly pruning tips of the branches removes most of the leaves and many of the flower buds.
When the correct plants are chosen and planted the proper distance apart, less pruning is required and plants can grow more naturally.
Many times, landscapers will plant closer than is necessary, not taking into account the plant’s mature size.
These shrubs are planted too close.
They will fill in quickly, but will need to be pruned often.
As they grow, half or more will need to be removed to make room.
This is done for many reasons. More plants can be put, in which raises the price of the job, or an established look can be obtained more quickly.
If shrubs reach a mature width of 3 feet, they should be planted 1 ½ to 2 feet apart.
Many times plants that reach a mature width of 4 to 6 feet are planted 18 inches apart.
This may sell more plants and quickly give the impression of an established landscape, but over the long term, it becomes a pruning nightmare. In the end, the solution is to remove a portion of the plant material or redo the entire landscape.
Mulch with organic material and plant annuals until the shrubs fill in.
Open and natural pruning can take on a semi-formal effect as well as the more natural untamed look.
This Texas ranger produces more flowers than over pruned shrubs because it is pruned open, allowing more green leaves and flower buds to grow.
When the correct plants are chosen, pruning can be kept to a minimum.
These are three-year-old dwarf “Little Ollie” olive shrubs that have never been pruned , and fit nicely into their space.
The rosemary makes a beautiful single foundation plant over 10 feet wide.
It has never been pruned and has been growing in this bed for eight years.
Retrofitting of Old Plantings
This Texas ranger was hedged in a small planting bed for many years.
The solution chosen was to shear it back in width and height, exposing the dead interior.
This is the same hedge one year later. It's back to its original size, taking up too much room in the small planting bed.
On close examination, one would see that this shrub was trying to tell the gardener that it would resprout from its trunk.
The best solution for this plant would have been to prune it to the ground, leaving stumps only a few inches tall.
Many gardeners are afraid to prune plants back so severely.
Not all plants will resprout in the manner of this Texas ranger.
If in doubt, try pruning one inconspicuously planted shrub in the landscape and see if it resprouts. You have nothing to lose.
A shrub pruned to the ground will regrow faster than a newly planted shrub from a container because it already has an established root system, which facilitates faster growth.
Landscape plants such as Lantana should be pruned back to the ground once a year.
This should be done after all danger from frost has past, or the new growth may be killed.
These Lantana are pruned to the ground every year in the first part of March, after all danger of frost is past.
By June, they have almost covered the bed and are blooming.
By August, they are their original size, in full bloom, and have required no pruning during the growing season.
Larger-growing plants, such as this Cordia (Figures 24, 25 and 26), can grow too large for their planting space, so can be cut to the ground every two years.
This Cordia hedge is cut to the ground every two to three years.
Once or twice a year, it receives some selective maintenance pruning.
Choose plants so their natural beauty can be achieved with as little pruning as possible.
The cascading rosemary provides natural beauty with little or no pruning.
When shrubs are sheared into formal shapes, such as balls and squares, they develop an old woody center with dead leaves and twigs.
Such an interior is a potential fire hazard.
When exposedto fire, it can combust easily, damaging plants in the landscape and possibly nearby buildings.
The interior of this rosemary hedge was full of dead leaves and twigs, unseen before it caught on fire.
The fire burned hot enough to kill other nearby plants.
When creating a landscape, select shrubs that will fit the site when planted for years to come.
This limits the amount of pruning that will ultimately be necessary.
Avoid over watering or over fertilizing.
When pruning is unavoidable, use techniques that will maintain plant health.
Incorrect and over pruning makes more work for the gardener, produces unhealthy plants, fills our landfills, and costs more to maintain.
Now...enjoy those beautiful plants !
The Garden Wizard
Spring Watering Restrictions
Mandatory watering restrictions limit landscape irrigation to three assigned days per week from March 1 through April 30.
Watering restrictions also apply to drip irrigation. Sunday is not an optional watering day.
Some lawns require more or less water, depending upon the type of grass.
Adding or removing one minute from the watering time will change the amount of water you use by 25 percent.
Drip irrigation is needed less frequently than sprinkler irrigation.
During spring, the Southern Nevada Water Authority recommends running your drip irrigation system in a single cycle of 30 to 90 minutes, two days a week.
The length of each watering should be determined by the emitter flow rate, soil type and weather conditions. See our drip watering tips for details.
If your plants appear stressed, check the soil moisture. If the soil is wet, your plants may be over watered. Water less often or for less time.
Correctly Pruning Branches & Bushes
When pruning bushes, remember what some arborists call the “4 Ds.”
Start with the dead and damaged branches, because they make the plant look bad, and encourage rot and disease.
Also,cut out wilted, dried or diseased branches as soon as you spot them, to remove disease before it spreads.
“Deranged” includes a broad range of branches that cross (the rubbing wears away the bark), loop down to the ground or simply look out of character with the bush (stick out at an odd angle or grow alongside the trunk).
This pruning also thins out the bush, opening its interior to more light and air, which encourages fuller, healthier growth.
Here are some tips on pruning.
1.Always prune just above a node, the place where a leaf joins a stem.
The node is where dormant buds are located.
These will grow out into new stems.
If you prune just below a node or in between two nodes, you leave a stub.
Never leave a stub.
The section of stem between two nodes, the internode, cannot grow new stems.
All it can do is sit there, become infected, and rot.
A stub is an open invitation to diseases that can kill your plant.
2. Prune to nodes with buds that face away from the center of the plant, and in the direction you want them to grow.
New branches that grow from these buds will grow in the direction the bud is pointing.
If you prune properly new growth develops away from the center of the plant, leaving the center open to air and light. This helps to avoid diseases and pests.
3. Never cut a branch off flush with the trunk or stem.
The place where a branch joins the main trunk or larger branch is usually slightly swollen and is called a collar.
The collar is special tissue that can quickly grow over and seal the wound when you prune off the branch.
Always protect the collar.
4. If you cut any plant for any reason, sterilize your tools before you use them on another plant.
The Garden Wizard
Roses...Care for Them and They'll be Back Each Year
MONTHLY CARE OF ROSES
Plant bare root roses this month, but no later than mid February.
Plant container roses anytime except during the heat of summer.
Strip off old leaves from canes prior to pruning to force the bush into dormancy.
Prune roses before they leaf out.
Remove debris from the area and spray with a
dormant oil mixed with a pesticide to control
over wintering pests on bushes and soil.
In mid-February, fertilize roses with a balanced fertilizer.
Add a cup of sulfur, 1/4 cup of magnesium sulfate (Epson salts) and one-half cup of super phosphate to each established rose to stimulate new cane growth and improve bloom quality.
Always water bushes thoroughly before and after fertilizing.
Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch to the rose bed after applying the fertilizer.
MARCH, APRIL, & MAY
Continue to fertilize roses monthly with a balanced rose fertilizer.
Apply iron chelates as needed to correct iron deficiency.
For higher quality blooms, foliar feed with a soluble
fertilizer in early April.
For larger blooms, remove secondary buds below the lead bud on hybrid teas.
For a more uniform bouquet of flowers, on florabunda remove the large center blooms.
Water early in the morning to minimize mildew. If possible, avoid wetting the foliage - use drip or soaker irrigation.
Use a recommended fungicide if the mildew becomes a problem.
Control aphids and thrips with a recommended insecticide.
The big rose display occurs from mid-April through May.
For fresh roses, cut back to where a cane is strong
enough (thickness of a pencil) to support a new
Cut just above an outside leaf (five leaflets.)
JUNE, JULY, & AUGUST
Fertilize roses at one half the normal rate.
Yellow leaves indicate iron deficiency - treat with iron chelates.
In June, apply one fourth cup of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt.)
Apply one cup again at the end of August.
Water deeply once a week or more often if necessary.
Remove faded roses after bloom.
Apply three to four inches of mulch to the rose beds and sprinkle a light application of nitrogen over the covering to hasten decomposition.
Roses produced during the summer are usually half the size of spring and fall roses.
Treat powdery mildew and insect-infested roses with the proper sprays.
Beginning in late August, remove all weak and undesirable canes to the crown or base of the rose.
Reduce the bush’s top growth by one third to stimulate the fall flush of growth.
Return to normal amounts of fertilizer.
Also include one cup soil sulfur and one-half cup
superphosphate per plant.
For higher quality blooms, apply a soluble fertilizer to the foliage every two weeks until buds show color.
Spray to control any insects and diseases.
With cooler weather and shorter days, lengthen the intervals between irrigations, but do not let the
root zone dry out.
Fertilize with a balanced rose fertilizer and one cup of sulfur to spur on blooms before Columbus Day.
The fall bloom cycle begins at the end of the month and continues into December.
Foliar fertilize until buds show color.
Disbud hybrid teas leaving the terminal buds for higher quality blooms.
Remove suckers that rise below the bud union or graft near the soil line.
Cut off spent blooms to stimulate flowering.
NOVEMBER & DECEMBER
Irrigate every two weeks if needed.
This is an excellent time to prepare new rose beds.
Evaluate the roses and discard those that did not perform well to make room for newer varieties.
Have the soil tested if there is a suspected problem or roses have performed poorly.
DO NOT FERTILIZE ROSES IN NOVEMBER, DECEMBER, AND JANUARY.
Keeping Your Potted Plants Alive in Winter
Potted plants are a wonderful way to help decorate both the interior and exterior of the home; however, if you have any potted plants then you know just how vulnerable they are to cold weather, and just what kind of damage they can experience.
Protecting potted plants from cold weather isn't all that difficult as long as you are willing to not only keep a few things in mind, but also put forth a little bit of effort.
Here as some helpful ideas.
1. Cover them up.
At the first hint of cold weather, usually accompanied by a frost advisory, cover up your potted plants.
For smaller potted plants this is a really simple craft project. Simply cut off the top of a plastic two liter bottle, take off the cap, and place it over the plants. In effect, this will turn the small potted plants into a terrarium.
For larger potted plants, such as small shrubs, you can simply wrap some blankets, flannel, or even burlap around the pots. This will help protect the roots from the cold and keep things a little warmer.
2. Bring them inside.
Bringing potted plants inside is one of the simplest ways of protecting potted plants from cold weather. This method usually will require a little bit of effort on your part though. The reason for this is that you will want to place something down on the floors, counters, or tables that you are going to store the plants. Remember that these pots can be a become a bit dirty and grimy if they are stored outside for a majority of the year.
3.Mulch can be a huge help.
There are some potted plants that are simply too big to be able to move easily, and that means that you will not be able to move them indoors.
For cases like this you will want to apply some mulching over the top of the soil in the pots.
In addition, you can also apply a few burlap sacks, blankets, or other types of fabric around the pots to help keep them warm.
If you have the funds available, you can also purchase some heating elements from your local department store or nursery that you can use to help keep the soil warm.
The Garden Wizard
The Southern Nevada Water
Authority says...now is the time for "enriching" some of your
perennials that will provide explosions of color in the
If you haven't
already done so, NOW IS THE TIME to consider planting water-efficient
perennials that will provide explosions of early spring
During March and April,
landscape irrigation is limited to three assigned days per
Don't forget to set your irrigation clock ahead an
hour now that daylight saving
time began on the second Sunday in
This also is a great time to check your clock's
Check Your System
Inspect filter screens for damage. Clean the filter
screens by opening the end of the filter and running water through briefly. Soak
the screens in a 50/50 water and vinegar solution if there is mineral
Flush the irrigation lines. Find the end cap and briefly
run the system to flush out debris.
Check valve boxes for debris buildup or muddy
conditions indicating poor
Selecting Plants for Spring
Spring is a fine
time to explore what plants work best in your
the function of the area(s) you plan to plant.
Are they used
for recreation, shade, border or entry areas or purely for
How much sun,
shade and wind do these areas receive?
Keep in mind the
size your new plants will grow to when mature to avoid placing them too close
plants with similar water needs together in your design to make your water use
more efficient and effective for plant health.
Use the Southern
Nevada Water Association Plant Search
tool to help you find the perfect plants
for your yard and create a list of plants you can take to the local nursery on
your next visit.
Choose Desert-Hearty Plants
that do well in our desert climate.
nurseries offer a wide variety of plants, you'll have the greatest long-term
success by focusing on hardy, low-water-use
Find a wide
variety of low maintenance and native plants using the
Try some of
these shrubs, trees and plants:
Masses of tubular
red flowers begin blooming in early February and continue into
They like full sun.
bright yellow blooms appear from January through March and sporadically the rest
of the year.
companion plant for the cassia, rosemary blooms during the same
spikes of color in spring and fall.
Don't let the
name fool you. This hummingbird favorite blooms all year, but most profusely
from October through April.
yellowish-orange flowers perfume the air from February through
Count on a
shower of golden-yellow blooms beginning in
Native to local
washes, this tree is beloved by hummingbirds and bees and produces clusters of
fragrant orchid-like blossoms, ranging from white to deep
large purple clusters of wisteria-like flowers looks as good as they
spikes of purple flowers cover this shrub-like tree in early
When buying a
container-grown tree, look for a firm, straight trunk, good
symmetry of branches and foliage free of browning or
Check the roots:
the soil mix should stay in contact with the roots.
Never buy a container-grown tree with tightly congested roots or
one with thick roots poking through the drainage
Plenty of small,
fine-white, moist roots that are evenly spread out suggest a healthy