View All Posts

Apr 29

May in your desert garden

Posted on April 29, 2021 at 2:11 PM by Diane Carmony

Temperatures and decreasing cloud cover will remind you and your garden that summer is on the way.  Average high temperatures nudge 90 F degrees in May, although the record hit 111 F degrees.

Your garden will start to need about twice as much water as it needed during the winter.

Winter and spring annuals have faded. Many perennials such as coreopsis, gaillardia and rudbeckia are developing and just beginning their color season.

Clean up dead leaves and faded flower stalks on daylilies. You can remove spent yucca and aloe flower stalks once they are past bloom or you can leave them for the interest they provide when dried.

Many plants, including trees, show new growth so you can tells which stems or branches are alive or dead. Prude dead stems and branches to live tissue.

If you have trees bearing fruit, pick early maturing fruit from deciduous trees to ripen indoors before the birds have a feast. If you want tree-ripened fruit, try to drape the trees in netting.

For vegetable plots

It is probably too late to start seeds, but these early-maturing, heat-tolerant transplants can thrive if planted in early May: beans, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, corn, cucumber, onions, peppers and squash.

Care tips:

  • Whitewash trunks of newly planted citrus trees with a rubber or water-based latex paint.
  • Mulch tree and vegetables to keep roots cool and conserve soil moisture. You can do this at any time of the year.
  • Gradually increase watering frequency and duration but try to keep regular sprinkler water off tree and vegetable foliage. Drip irrigation is best.
  • In dusty areas, a quick hose rinse once a week is okay.
  • Check drip irrigation for clogs and evaluate the entire sprinkler system to avoid other water waste problems.

For more help

 “Lush and Efficient: Desert-Friendly Landscaping in the Coachella Valley” lists more than 300 plants with over 800 photos. You can search by several dozen categories. Find the 160-page book at for $10 with free shipping. Or, look at a PDF of the book at, click on Conservation.


You must log in before leaving your comment