Monsoon season is time to plant heat-loving species

Temperature, humidity, rain ideal for getting greenery in the ground
2012-07-22T00:00:00Z 2012-07-24T10:48:09Z Monsoon season is time to plant heat-loving speciesElena Acoba Special To The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Planting at this time of year may be tough on you, but it's the perfect season for heat-loving species to get in the ground and grow.

Russ Buhrow, curator of plants at Tohono Chul Park, says it's "much easier" for warm-weather plants to get established during the monsoon season.

July's high temperatures, humidity and rain make for happy summer plants, says Jeanne Oehler of Torque Ranch near the Cochise Stronghold. That's especially true for what she grows.

"Herbs love the heat," says Oehler. "They just don't like a lot of direct sun."

Tohono Chul Park will offer summer-planting specimens at its Monsoon Madness Plant Sale Friday and Saturday.

About 20 plant sellers and hobbyists will offer native and non-native cacti, adeniums, aloes, agaves, shrubs, herbs and other plants. Some specimens are collectible, odd-looking succulents from around the world. Others are more typical native and desert-adapted landscape plants.

Oehler will be there with scented geraniums and basil, thyme, cucumber-tasting salad burnet, mint, lemon verbena and other edibles.

Her nursery plants are grown in pots in the open desert, not in a greenhouse. "All of my plants are acclimated to the desert," she says. That makes them more attune to local conditions than nurseries that get their stock in a different climate zone. That's a bonus for planting at this time of year.

Digging is much easier to do after a rain shower. Loosen wet dirt, then plant as you normally would.

The key to summer survival for newly planted greenery is water.

"I water everything every morning," Oehler says of her crop.

Buhrow agrees with that strategy, even while monsoon rains appear. "Even if there may be some rain, you may have to water anyway," he says.

Stick to a regular schedule regardless of the weather forecasts. "You can't make a plant live with anticipated rain," he says.

Instead, decide whether you can skip a watering after it rains. You want to make sure the ground around the plant is very wet before adjusting your own irrigation.

Plants with canopies can block rainfall, says Oehler, so you can't assume that it received adequate water just because it rained.

Newly transplanted plants will need extra water until they are established. That's where the folks at the plant sale can help.

"They know exactly how to do it," says Buhrow. "You've got a whole panel of experts there. It's a really good educational thing."

If you go

Monsoon Madness Plant Sale

• What: Vendors and Tohono Chul Park offer heat-loving plants, pottery and garden art for sale.

• Where: Throughout the park, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte.

• When: 4-8 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday.

• Admission: Free. There also is free entrance into the park during the sale.

• Information: www.tohonochulpark.org or 742-6455.

Contact local freelance writer Elena Acoba at acoba@dakotacom.net

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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