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Mar 31

April in Your Desert Garden

Posted on March 31, 2022 at 1:14 PM by Jesse Ruiz

Managing soils and pruning shrubs photoApril is a great garden month in the Coachella Valley as the color season reaches its peak. The danger of frost has passed, so now is the ideal time to plant subtropicals that are sensitive to cold such as bougainvillea, hibiscus, lantana, cape honeysuckle, and citrus.

As it grows warmer this month, winter annuals will begin to sag. Remove them as they fade or die out.

Plant warm-season annuals in sunny beds with prepared soil. Marigolds, periwinkles and zinnias will do well. Pune and thin Senna and Texas rangers lightly after flowering stops. You want to control growth and keep natural forms, yet increase plant spread and create additional wood for the next flowering season.

Citrus tips

Plant in a full-sun location or one with some afternoon shade.

Space grapefruit trees 20 feet apart, most other citrus 15 feet apart.

Build a basin around the tree at least 4 feet in diameter with sides about 6 inches high. Fill basin and soak soil to 2 feet deep at least twice a week in April and May. Soak to 3 feet deep about twice a week June through September. In winter months, water every 10-12 days. In a year, water the established tree as a mature tree.

Apply mulch over the basin area and well away from the trunk

Fertilize your citrus tree once a month until September. Use these holidays as a reminder to fertilize: Easter, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.

Other tasks:

  • Set out culinary herbs like mint, rosemary, sage, parsley, and thyme. Basil is the prime summer herb.
  • Apply more water to vegetable and fruit crops.
  • Continue to plant and transplant warm-season vegetable crops. Consider onions, garlic, potatoes, tomatoes, sweet corn, squash, gourds, eggplant, pepper sand melons. Choose short-days-to maturity fruiting varieties before average temperatures hit 100 F.
  • Create a pollinator garden. Lantana, verbena, lavender, penstemon and salvia are options.
  • Many desert shrubs attract hummingbirds and bees. Desert milkweed planted in bulk attracts both queen and monarch butterflies.
  • Remove weeds and Bermuda grass from flowerbeds and gardens.
  • Deadhead spent flowers and fertilize roses after each bloom period for a last crop before hot weather.

Free webinar:

Are you houseplants droopy? Join our webinar from noon to 1 p.m. April 6. A  Master Gardener will tell how to keep your houseplants happy and healthy. Register here or click on

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.


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