Fan palm

Each year at the Arid Garden, this stately fan palm tree is fed with designated palm fertilizer during the summer monsoon season.

Landscape choices are not forever. Some plants simply wear out after a while.

Preferences may change, and growing conditions may need adjusting. Drying winds, blistering sun, and variable rainfall may be more or less challenging than previously. Don’t be hesitant about considering changes to the landscape.

This is a good time to look around and evaluate your plantings. Should some be relocated for more shade or better wind patterns? Are certain old favorites becoming weary from years of heavy blooms? Perhaps that carefully chosen patio tree has outgrown its space, or now shades the plants that need eight hours of sun daily. Take a walk through the yard at different times of day and see which growing conditions have changed in the past few years.

Fall planting season begins in late September and continues through the month of October, so this may be the perfect time to plan any needed changes. Consider creation of easy-to-reach raised garden areas, add a small vegetable patch, or purchase some large decorative containers to warm the winter patio scene.

There are also a few tasks that should be done this month. Continue deadheading any spent blooms that have survived the summer heat. Palms and citrus trees may be fed anytime from late August into early September. Check for sunburn and temporarily cover any plants showing stress.

Watch prickly pear plants for signs of early white cottony cochineal scale, which can be removed with a blast of water from the garden hose. It is also recommended to shower perennials or any previously-infested shrubs once or twice a week to control spider mite numbers. Keep a sharp eye out for large black beetles that can be found chewing on cactus and prickly pear pads. Pick these off and destroy.

Clouds of small whiteflies fly from the underside of plant leaves when disturbed. Large numbers are difficult if not impossible to eradicate. Using a soap spray made of one tablespoon of dish detergent such as Dawn to one gallon of water can help control their numbers.

Check oleander for the presence of bacterial galls which will normally not kill the plant but can spread. Cut out and discard any infected branches. Always disinfect the pruners between cuts.

Pulling out summer annual weeds appearing this month is easiest after a rain shower. Many gardeners use household vinegar as a bio-degradable pesticide to kill many weeds during their first two weeks of life. Spray young weeds with undiluted white vinegar when the air is still, being careful to keep the spray off desirable plants.

Finally, just for the fun of it, why not also enjoy butterfly antics among the late summer vegetation in our local “Certified Butterfly Gardens” — The Arid Garden at Camino Encanto and Camino Del Arrendajo and Desert Meadows Park on La Huerta just off Abrego Drive.

Mary Kidnocker is a University of Arizona Master Gardener who lives in the Green Valley area. Her articles are featured weekly.

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