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  • Ellen Sneider

Desertscape Do’s and Don’ts for the Summer

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

July is the hottest month of the year in the desert. Or, supposed to be. We just had a very hot June with temperatures above 120 degrees. Here are some things to be aware of in July. Set irrigation clocks to at least twice a day, early morning and again in the evening. If there is an area that gets a lot of afternoon sun, a third time around 3:00 or 4:00 might be necessary. Your irrigation clock should be a “smart clock or smart meter” these irrigation clocks automatically add or reduce the amount of water according to the weather and temperature. Most of the water districts in the Coachella Valley will give you one of these clocks for free! You just have to apply for one. There are a few desert plants that will be affected by the extreme temperatures, and can burn. The leaves on Ficus trees and hedges will burn at extreme temperatures, mostly southern and western facing. If the ficus are well established the burnt leaves will fall off and in the next six months to a year the tree or shrub will grow new leaves and recover. Most other shrubs with green leaves that burn will also recover as well. Trees and shrubs should not be trimmed this time of year as that makes them more susceptible to burning. Mexican Fence Post cactus can also burn this time of year. Once they are burned that burn will never go away. If they are west facing and against a wall you might want to protect them with a shade cloth. Just make sure the sun shade does not touch the cactus. Most agaves will be able to stand the extreme temperatures. Not the Blue Glow Agaves. Too much afternoon sun will burn them and they will never recover. Once a Blue Glow Agave is burnt the leaves will remain damaged. Another agave I have seen with burnt leaves is the agave Sisalana. They should not burn, but I have seen some against a wall with burnt leaves recently. Again, if you protect them with a sun shade cloth, make sure it does not touch the plant. Madagascar Palms will also burn in extreme temperatures. And again, mainly if they get too much late afternoon sun. If the main trunk of the palm burns, it will never recover, although the plant will probably survive, the burn is unsightly. If you have any questions about your desert landscape, go to our website and send us your questions: Stay Cool!

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