Showing posts from April, 2019

Knowing How Much to Water, PART I: #itscomplicated

Southwest Yard and Garden Knowing How Much to Water, PART I: #itscomplicated

(partialreprint from October 2017)

Cottonwood leaf near Hillsboro, NM in September 2017. Although native to our region, cottonwood trees are no longer recommended for most of our ornamental landscapes because of their high water needs. Photo credit M. Thompson.

Question: How much water does my tree need?  - Multiple Gardeners from All Over New Mexico
Answer: I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: It depends! Considerations include the tree species, age, growth phase (e.g., dormant, bud break, leaf senescence in fall, etc.), soil type, time of the year, temperatures, winds, other weather-related events like recent rain, hail, or snow, and so on.
Even if you know the species of your tree and try to look up water requirements, you will likely find either a painfully vague answer like “moderate” or a complicated one. For example, in Judith Phillips’ revised New Mexico Gardener’s Guide the watering directions for d…

Managing Aphid Outbreaks on Fruit Trees (and Other Plants)

Southwest Yard & Garden

Peach tree stem infested with aphids is likely going to defoliate completely, but this early in the growing season there’s a good chance it will bounce back and be covered in new leaves in no time. Photo credits M. Thompson.

Question: What’s causing our peach tree leaves to wither and curl up completely and should we also be worried about our apricot trees nearby? -Lorraine J., Los Lunas, NM Answer: Looking at the sample you brought in, the leaf curl on your peach tree branches is pretty extreme, and when I turned over and uncurled the leaves I found a ton of chubby green aphids hiding underneath. Some of the leaves, especially at the tips, are stunted and probably won’t fully expand after so much damage. Another aphid clue is the shiny, sticky coating on many of the leaves. The sticky shellac is called honeydew, which is a darling name for aphid excretion or – pardon my French – poo. In my first New Mexico summer I was walking down Lomas Ave. in Albuquerque on …

Shocking Houseplants When Transitioning Outdoors

Southwest Yard & Garden Late April to early May is usually a safe time to move houseplants outside in most of New Mexico, but transition carefully and watch the forecast! Reprint from April 2011. Written by Dr. Curtis Smith, retired NMSU Extension Horticulture Specialist, with additions by Dr. Marisa Thompson.  Question: Is it safe to put houseplants outside now? After I moved my plants outside last year most of the leaves died. - M.J., Albuquerque Answer: In the Albuquerque area, it will soon be safe to put houseplants outside for the summer. If you are in the valley or high-elevation areas, you may need to wait until the second week of May. Gardeners in southern New Mexico can be more confident moving plants outside already (except those at high elevation). In northern New Mexico, gardeners should wait another month or more. In any event, you should watch the weather reports and be prepared to move plants back indoors or cover them. Frost and freezes are increasingly unlikely, but not…

Picky Picky: Selecting the Right Fruit Tree for Your Garden

Southwest Yard & Garden by Dr. Marisa Thompson

Question: What fruit trees are recommended for my area? -Karena, Dulce, NM Answer: Last week I offered tips for protecting existing fruit trees with bursting buds and open flowers from late frosts (visit In commercial fruit production systems, growers can justify the costs of running serious equipment to keep the bud tissues from freezing, like wind machines or a sprinkler system that showers the canopies through the night, but these options only work when temperatures are expected to stay just below freezing. Colder spells may make matters worse! The actual best thing you can do to protect those buds and maximize yields is select trees carefully before you buy. Getting a reliable crop from many popular fruit trees can be tough in New Mexico. This is especially true of the earlier-blooming ones like almond, apricot, Japanese plum, and sweet cherry…