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Feb 02

February in your desert garden

Posted on February 2, 2023 at 11:06 AM by Jesse Ruiz

Citrus Part 2What to plant

This is your last chance to plant smaller cool-season vegetable seeds -- root crops, leaf crops and peas. Choose slow-bolt varieties to keep them from going to seed as spring moves toward summer. 

You might have better luck for a crop if you plant winter vegetable seedlings -- leafy lettuce, beets, broccoli, cabbage, chard, peas, green onions and spinach. 

You can plant trees in February. Citrus that have high heat requirements such as grapefruit and Valencia oranges, Eureka and Lisbon lemons, Fairchild and Daisy mandarins and tangelos are a few of the well-suited citrus for this area. 

You can set out warm-season transplants after mid-February, but watch for a frost weather report and protect from late season frost with a frost blanket.

It is an excellent time to plant shallow-rooted ground covers, native plants and other low-water use plants. 

Hold off planting frost tender plants such as bougainvillea until March to avoid possible late frost.


  • Finish pruning roses and deciduous fruit trees.
  • Prune citrus lightly and keep the canopy skirt 1 foot above the ground, but remove dead wood, crossovers and any suckers growing from below the bud union.
  • Fertilize deciduous and citrus fruit trees with a complete slow-release fertilizer.
  • Look for aphids. Control with insecticidal soap.
  • Begin deep watering trees and shrubs at their drip line in anticipation of a spring growth surge.

Have no idea what to plant?

The 160-page book, “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.  

You can pick up a free copy at CVWD’s Coachella office at 50-501 Tyler St., or CVWD’s Palm Desert office at 75-525 Hovley Lane East (same building where you pay your bill). You can also find the book at for PDF download.  

 More help

This simple site can get you going: The California Native Plant Society’s Calscape Garden Planner at You start by answering four easy questions:

  1. In what city is your garden located?
  2. Which garden style best reflects your garden goals (choose from 4)?
  3. How sunny is your designated planting area?
  4. What is your biggest priority in creating a native garden (chose from 4)?

The site cogitates your answers and pops up a suggested plant list of annual herbs, perennial herbs, shrubs, trees, and suggested design ideas.


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