Thursday, May 3, 2018

7 Foolproof Ways To Prepare For Summer

1. Reset sprinkler clocks to increase watering length due to increased temperatures. The best time to water is between the hours of 3 and 6 AM. Check with any Star Nursery for a copy of the Southern Nevada Water Authority Watering Guide or Drought Watering Restrictions Guide. Inspect your irrigation system for correct water delivery to all plants.

2. Control wild unwanted Bermuda by fertilizing and watering it until it is lush (this will make the plant more vulnerable), then treat with a non-selective grass killer like Remuda® or Round-up®. Several treatments may be necessary for effective control. An alternative is to cultivate Bermuda. It makes a dense, water efficient turf when properly contained and cared for. Treated areas can be replanted or re-seeded after dead turf is removed. These herbicides are also effective in treating tree wells and shrub beds without harm to desirable plants. Remember – keep herbicide off of desirable plant foliage!

3. Aggressively manage insect pests with insecticides or organic controls. Paint fruit tree trunks with white, water-base paint or use tree wrap to protect from sunburn and help prevent borer infestation.

4. Refresh potted plants by adding new potting soil or shifting overgrown house and patio plants into larger containers with fresh soil. Use a long slow outdoor watering to leach buildup of fertilizer and water-soluble salts. Apply a mild fertilizer like Dr. Q’s® Gold Dust (5-10-5) or Dr. Q’s Houseplant Tonic (5-3-1). Use cache-pots to surround patio plants and keep them from overheating. Increase watering frequency as needed.

5. Prune desert plants.  Now is a good time to do light pruning on low-water-use plants and reduce stress from overgrown foliage and seedpods. Be careful not to expose tender trunks to full sun if they’ve been well shaded previously.

6. Be picky about fertilizer.  Most ornamentals will benefit from a mild feeding of a complete, packaged fertilizer like Dr. Q’s® TreeShrub & Vine Food (16-8-4). Fertilize lawns before the end of the month to get them through the first heat wave. Renew mulches as necessary.

7. Plant heat-loving flowers like Texas BluebellsStar FlowersVincaMarigold, Moss Rose, and Zinnias. Amend soil thoroughly and use surface mulches to make them more water efficient. Continue to plant summer flowers like Dahlias and Cannas.

For more information on what to do in the garden throughout the year, check out Star Note #100

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Your April Garden Checklist

Brighten up your yard.  Plant all kinds of annual and perennial flowers for spring and summer color. Set out ground covers. GazaniaIceplantsHearts and FlowersIvyVerbena and Australian Racer are some good choices. After planting, use a pre-emergent weed control. See our friendly sales associates for details.
Pretty but destructive.  Watch for skeletonizers on grape leaves. Adults are iridescent purple moths and the attractive caterpillars are striped blue and yellow (with stinging, irritating hairs). Untreated they will strip all the green from the leaves very quickly. Several generations a season may weaken or kill your vines. Treat with Bacillus Thuringensis (Bio Worm Killer or Thuricide) which will kill all kinds of caterpillars but won’t hurt anything else.
Apply mulches on the surface of your vegetable and flower beds and around trees and shrubs. It keeps the soil cool and helps moisture retention. Paydirt™ Planting Mix is an excellent choice for all mulching needs. Bark mulch is a good alternative in high wind areas.

Give lawns a workout to prepare them for the hot summer months. StarNote 820, Lawn Care and Maintenance Calendar, lists fertilizer choices (StarNote 825 for Southern Utah). Continue overseeding as needed and aerate the lawn every 2-3 years.
Vegetable tips.  Mulch tomatoes to conserve soil moisture and water deeply, but not every day, to encourage deep rooting and discourage blossom drop. Plant warm season vegetables like squash, peppers, beans, and melons. Plant hot season tomatoes like Heatwave which will continue to produce as temperatures climb. Feed monthly with Dr. Q’s® Vegetable & Tomato Food (6-10-6)

For more information on monthly garden advice, check out Star Note #100

Monday, March 12, 2018

Get The Flower Garden Of Your Dreams!

 From seed or nursery transplants, in the yard, in containers or hanging baskets, flowers brighten our property and add to the pride of ownership. How do you plant warm-season flowers? Finding a spot with sunshine that you can also get a shovel into is a great start! Most colorful blooming flowers have much more tender roots than trees or shrubs so it is important that you have rich garden soil. 
Due to our poor native soil, it is best to add organic material like Paydirt™ Planting Mix or Humus Gro, with a liberal addition of Dr. Q’s® Gold Dust Starter Fertilizer. Install your flowers, water with a solution of Dr. Q’s Plant Tonic, fertilize monthly and enjoy! Container gardens are super too!
Alyssum is a low, bushy, spreading plant covered with small fragrant flowers in shades of white, pink or purple. They self-sow readily and resprout in spring. Excellent in borders or mass plantings. Be sure you want them where you put them!
Begonia makes a colorful addition to any shady garden area. Bronze or shiny green, semi-succulent foliage is highlighted with delicate flowers in white, pink or red. Good in containers. Variety New Guinea is taller and bushier with larger flowers. Be sure this one has excellent drainage.
Buddy Purple has papery purple flower heads atop compact bushy foliage. Good for edging, beds or pots. Cut flowers are excellent in dried arrangements.
Celosia gives bright garden color in the hottest weather.  New Look has purplish red foliage and feathery, deep red flower spikes.  Plume Celosia has green foliage with feathery flower spikes in shades of yellow, pink and red. Makes an excellent full sun accent, border or background. Groom as needed to keep neat.
Cosmos is a delicate, fernlike plant with large, bright daisy-like flowers in shades of pink, purple, white, or lavender. It frequently reaches 3 feet in height and makes a good background or accent. Plants self-sow freely.
Impatiens give delicate color to shady areas, patio containers, atriums, and entryways. Succulent stems bear flowers in a wide variety of colors. Needs good garden soil and excellent drainage.
Lobelia makes an excellent trailing plant for shady containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets. In shady gardens, it makes a nice, compact accent or border. In varieties like Cambridge Blue and Crystal Palace, rich blue flowers contrast with bright green or bronzy green leaves. Other varieties may be pure white, pink or blue with a white eye.
Marigold comes in an endless variety of colors and sizes. From dwarf to giant, in colors of bright yellow, orange and red, this plant has always been a favorite of gardeners in the southwest. Equally, at home in containers or gardens, it self-sows readily. It’s great in full sun and better without overhead water.
Petunias are marked by large, trumpet-shaped flowers on compact, bushy plants. Shades range from pure white through purple, pink, red and bicolor. Some varieties are sweetly fragrant. Excellent in massed plantings, spring and fall; needs afternoon shade in summer to look good. May carry over in mild winters.

Vinca is a showy, glossy green, heat-loving plant with flowers in unusual shades of grape, raspberry, blue, red, rose, white and bicolor. Excellent in masses, as borders or spot accents. Avoid overhead sprinkling. It may return from seed next year.
Zinnia makes a spectacular addition to any summer garden. Ranging in size from dwarf to 3 feet or more, this heat lover produces flowers in nearly every shade imaginable. Good in pots; remove spent flowers to encourage repeat blooming. Avoid overhead sprinkling.

Dianthus is a member of the carnation family that makes perfect mounds of color in spring and fall. Blooms off and on throughout the rest of the year. Shows nearly endless color varieties from deep red through pink, purple, white and bicolor. Will also grow well in part shade. Plant anywhere in the garden.
Dusty Miller is highly favored for its soft, silvery gray foliage. It’s excellent for formal borders and accents in traditional or desert gardens. Stalks of mustard-yellow flowers appear in summer. Remove them to keep the plant vigorous. This one is rabbit resistant!

Gazania is a bright, cheery, heat-loving plant available in trailing or clumping varieties. Trailing types make excellent ground covers while clumping plants are perfect for spot accents, masses or borders. Colors range from white to burgundy, yellow, orange, red and bicolor. Don’t over water this one!
Lantana is one of the most versatile, colorful plants available for our climate. Varieties include trailing, mounding, and bush with shades of purple, orange, yellow, red and multicolor. Use it as a ground cover, accent, border or clipped, low hedge. Prune in spring when new growth appears.
Pentas are wonderful, spreading, multi-stemmed perennials grown as annuals in our climate. Compact plants are continually covered with clusters of white, pink, lilac or red flowers. Superb as borders, masses or accents. Takes overhead watering better than most bedding plants.

Snapdragon is available in many colors and sizes. Dwarf varieties are excellent for masses, foregrounds, and borders. Taller varieties work well as background and accent plantings. All do well in containers. Self-sows readily and produces endless color variations due to cross-pollination.
For more information on Warm Weather Flower Gardening, check out Star Note #310.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Your Essential Spring Garden Guide

Vegetables have been grown successfully in hot, dry climates for many years. In Southern Nevada, Southern Utah, and Northern Arizona, many tasty crops can be produced with a little preparation and planning. 
Soil preparation is very important in producing bountiful crops. 
Consistent fertilizing and watering practices are also needed. 
Here are a few handy tips for the home gardener:

  •  Don’t try to garden in caliche! If you have an impermeable layer near the surface, build raised beds and fill them with a mixture of native soil and bagged organic material like Paydirt™ Planting Mix or Dr. Q's Vegetable & Herb Mix. 

  •  When locating your vegetable bed, choose a spot with good air circulation. 
  • Avoid excessively windy areas or reflective heat sources like south or west facing walls.

  •  Use the right fertilizers for what you’re trying to grow. Leaf crops need lots of nitrogen; fruit crops like peppers and tomatoes need less nitrogen and more phosphorus and potassium. Dr. Q’s Vegetable and Tomato Food is excellent, as well as our Earthworm Castings. A Star Nursery sales associate can help you pick the right fertilizer.
  • When amending vegetable beds, a mix of no more than one half organic material to one half native soil will suffice. To keep the soil fresh and viable, add some new organic material each time you replant your beds. Add Dr. Q’s® Gold Dust Starter Fertilizer, according to package directions, a day or so before planting.
  • Surface mulches help prevent weeds, conserve water and cool plant roots. 

  • Shredded Cedar Bark repels insects! Use them generously.

  • Most pests can be controlled by hand and sprays of water from the hose. The biggest pests in warm weather vegetable gardens, along with aphids, are caterpillars, cabbage loopers, and hornworms. These can be safely controlled with Bio-Worm Killer® or an equivalent bacillus thuringensis (BT) product. Be conservative in applying chemicals. Use the right ones, and ALWAYS FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS.

  • The first frost is usually around mid-November in Southern Nevada, Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, the last frost is usually early to mid-March. Due to the erratic nature of desert weather, these dates can vary considerably. Be flexible and be prepared to protect your young vegetable plants if necessary. 

  • If you want to start your own seedlings instead of purchasing transplants, add a 6 to 10-week lead-time depending on variety. For example, if you want tomatoes, you should start them indoors in mid-January to have them ready for a late March planting.


Artichokes (March to May). Grown from transplants; tough, attractive and tasty. Harvest buds when tight and plump. Flowers are spectacular in dried arrangements. Use a hose to wash off aphids.

Asparagus (November to January-roots; March to April-seeds).  Seed make strong plants in one season. Plants take 2-3 years to produce in quantity. Prefers rich soil and regular water. Cut stems to the ground when plants turn brown in winter.


Beans (March to July).  Grown from seed or transplants. Salt-sensitive; flush soil regularly. Chinese long beans (asparagus beans—seed only) are the most heat tolerant of common beans.

Corn (March 15, July 15).  Grown from seed. These are the two best dates. It can also be planted in between. If planting after late July, use short or mid-season varieties (65 to 80 days). Plant in blocks rather than rows, since row-grown-corn pollinates poorly here.

Cucumber (March to August). Grown from seed or transplants. Armenian (burpless) cucumbers are more heat tolerant and less likely to turn bitter. Grow on fence or trellis tie fruit to support and to prevent curling (use old pantyhose); harvest when no more than a foot long. Plant bush varieties to save space.

Eggplant (March to July). Grown from transplants. Oriental (Japanese) and white eggplants produce better in summer heat than traditional varieties. Plants do well in semi-shade; watch for spider mites.

Lettuce—leaf (All year).  Grown from seed or transplants. Leaf lettuce like Black Seeded Simpson can be grown all year. Plant every 2 weeks for a good, regular crop. Best with PM summer shade.

Melons (April to July).  Grown from seed or transplants. Give plenty of water as melons develop. Cantaloupes and other musk-type melons don’t transplant well and do best if started from seed. Watermelons are good either way. Overhead sprinkling is not recommended.

Okra (April to May). Grown from seed. Pick small pods every day to keep from getting tough and woody.

Peppers (March to July). Begin with transplants or seeds. Make sure soil is warm before planting; use black plastic to warm it up if necessary in early spring. To aid in setting fruit, some gardeners recommend pinching off any fruit already on transplants before planting. Give regular water and good drainage; plant deep.

Radish (All year).  Grown from seed. Gets pithy and hot fast, so plant small amounts every two weeks for a regular supply.

Spinach, New Zealand (April to August).  Grown from seed. Similar to regular spinach, but more heat tolerant. Endures salty soils.

Squash (March to July). Grown from transplants or seeds. It’s important to water beneath leaves. That prevents mildew and allows you to use Sevin Dust to control squash bugs. Popular varieties are Yellow CrookneckZucchini, and Spaghetti.

Tomatoes (Early March to May; August).   Grown from transplants. The smaller-fruited varieties like Sweet 100Red CherryPatioYellow Pear and Roma tolerate the heat better. Beefsteaks are generally disappointing. Heartland and Heatwave are larger-fruited, heat tolerant varieties. Other varieties do not generally set fruit in July and August here. Cut back in late August for a fall crop from summer plants. Plant deep and water thoroughly but infrequently until fruit forms. Some gardeners recommend a fifty-percent shade cloth cool the plant and improve humidity.