weather icon Clear

Plant roses that grow well in hot desert climate

You can still attend the last of my fruit tree pruning classes starting at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Ahern Orchard near Bonanza Road and Martin Luther King Boulevard. Contact me if you need help finding this orchard. This is a private orchard and contains about 3,000 fruit trees of many kinds, ranging from one year in the ground to four years in the ground and many close to 10 feet tall.

I am getting a lot of questions sent to me on roses right now. Some highlights to remember when planting roses include going to the Weeks Roses website and looking at its rose selections by climate. Choose from its list of roses that do well in our hot desert climate before you buy one.

Use amended soil when planting or amend your existing soil with compost and dig the hole wide. Always thoroughly water roses during and after planting and stake them so the roots don’t move. Cover the soil with woodchips, not rock.

Now is the time of year for pruning roses. Make sure they are given fertilizer plus iron by the end of January. Roses in warm microclimates may not stop growing and flowering all winter long. Roses in colder microclimates lose all their leaves and, of course, stop flowering during low temperatures. Removing any remaining leaves after pruning and following this with a spray of dormant oil helps reduce pest problems during the spring and early summer.

Q: In January, my roses are all done flowering and we cut them back. However, this year I have a pod of four rose bushes, and they are all producing many flower buds and keep blooming. My question is: Should I cut them back anyway so they will regenerate for a new year? They really look beautiful right now.

A: Continuous growth through the winter can be a problem with roses in our climate if we don’t have a really cold winter or plant them in a warm landscape microclimate. Roses like cold weather.

It is very important to get your pruning done even if they are growing. It may get colder yet this year, but I would prune them back, save any flowers in a vase and remove any leaves that remain.

Removing their leaves helps push them into winter dormancy without low temperatures. They will have lots of stored reserves for new growth after pruning, so don’t worry about that. Don’t forget to apply fertilizer and iron at the end of January.

Q: Two years ago, my wife got this cute little plant for Mother’s Day, and I planted it out in my raised-bed tomato garden. After two seasons, this plant is about 4 feet tall and it looks like a Mexican palm tree. When can I transplant this into the backyard?

A: Wait until the weather starts to warm up a bit, around mid- to late February. You can plant palms all during the spring and summer months. Just avoid planting them during the mid- to late fall and winter months.

I have seen damage to palms and even death when they were planted late in the year. Death isn’t from the act of planting, but they may become more susceptible to disease at that time of the year.

Q: I have used neem oil RTU (ready to use) last year as an insecticide on my orange tree and bushes such as yellow bells and crepe myrtle. I applied it in February. It worked very well. I had no insect problems in the spring, summer or fall. Is this the same as a dormant oil spray? Does it work just as well?

A: Good to hear about the neem oil working well for you. No, it is not the same as a dormant oil application. But you could mix neem oil with dormant oil as a winter application on fruit trees immediately after pruning. Neem oil applications and dormant oil applications are not the same, but they can complement each other.

Dormant oil has a specific thickness (viscosity) that makes it better for suffocating insects that are waiting through the winter months to get back to the job of feeding on plants and multiplying when temperatures warm up. The neem oil is toxic to insects without necessarily suffocating them. Neem oil is a good choice as a general insecticide and if that is working for you, then I would encourage you to stay with it.

Now let’s mix things up a little. Apply neem oil at a slightly different time of the year, maybe a month earlier or later than normal, and see how that works. If we apply the same pesticide over and over and at the same time of year, we will get very good results on those insects that are problems at that time.

Add soap and water sprays to this arsenal and alternate their use with neem oil if you see a problem developing. This helps control a more diverse population of insects while being safer for beneficial pests and the environment.

Q: You mentioned using an auger to get down to the roots of plants and trees to aid their growth. Where do you find such a tool? Would I look in the hardware department of a store like Lowe’s?

A: This doesn’t need to be done around all plants in all soils. Augering holes, which is called vertical mulching, is for soils compacted by a lot of foot traffic, planting holes that were dug too small, and soils that don’t drain water well. Usually plants in these areas are not growing well, look sickly and may have yellow leaves.

The idea is to open poorly drained soils with multiple vertical holes and rake an amended soil mix inside these holes so roots will grow deeper and throughout the soil. Plant roots grow shallow if the soil around the roots can’t breathe. Plants growing like this are susceptible to heat and drought. Vertical mulching lets air enter deep inside the soil around plant roots.

As far as the auger goes, I have seen augers powered by an electric drill available at hardware outlets like Lowe’s that make holes about 1 in diameter. I have used these small augers, posthole diggers, as well as a hydraulic auger that creates a 6-inch-diameter hole. Not many large holes are needed. But when you create smaller holes, more holes need to be created to be effective.

Q: What are the chances of planting a moringa tree in this area? I heard about the good health benefits of morninga tea, and I’m interested in growing my own tree.

A: The moringa tree is getting a lot of attention lately because of its health benefits, but it is a tropical tree. It is known by other names that people might recognize including horseradish tree, drumstick tree and, in the Philippines, it is called malunggay. It will grow 15 to 20 feet tall if you let it.

Since it’s tropical, it will freeze to the ground if temperatures dip below freezing. However, it could be grown in Las Vegas similar to bougainvillea. Protect the base of the tree with 4 or 5 inches of mulch in late fall so the crown or roots don’t freeze during cold weather. If the tree does freeze back, it will sucker generously and vigorously from the base in the spring.

If winter temperatures get extremely low, it is possible the tree could die. Start a new one.

The moringa tree can be started from cuttings or seed. Unless you have a neighbor or friend who has a tree, the easiest way to start the tree is from seed. The seed requires warm conditions to germinate, just like tomato, so start it indoors where it can be kept warm and move it outdoors about the same time you would plant tomatoes.

The tree will grow fast — 6 feet or more in one season if it gets watered regularly and the soil is amended with compost. You can let it grow with a single trunk or cut it back close to the ground and it will produce suckers.

We grow it on our farm in the Philippines, where we keep it cut back so it suckers, and we can harvest the leaves for cooking.

Bob Morris is a horticulture expert and professor emeritus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Visit his blog at xtremehorticulture.blogspot.com. Send questions to Extremehort@aol.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Videos
Fatal shooting at a Las Vegas Apartment
A black man in his 40's is dead after shooting Tuesday morning at a southwest Las Vegas Valley apartment.
New requirements for Real ID - VIDEO
What you need to know about the Real ID and why it may be important for you to have one if you don't have a passport. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Major US 95 road project in downtown Las Vegas could cost $1B - VIDEO
The Nevada Department of Transportation wants to reconfigure a 4-mile portion of U.S. 95 between Rancho Drive and Mojave Road at an estimated cost of $1 billion. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Double amputee veteran climbs stairs at Strat
Travis Strong, who lost both of his legs by a bomb in Baghdad in 2006, climbed 108 levels and 1,455 stairs at the Strat. The event brought 1,000 climbers out to raise money for the American Lung Association in Nevada.
Why does the vote count take so long?
RJ political reporter Rory Appleton discusses the vote counting process and why it takes so long.
Doolittle Community Center hosts caucuses - VIDEO
The Doolittle Community Center hosted six precincts in one room for the Nevada Democratic caucuses, and voters engaged in debate and discussion about who to lead each precinct, Feb. 22, 2020. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus day in Summerlin - VIDEO
Out-of-state caucus observer Ken Valz speaks about the Nevada Democratic caucuses at Palo Verde High School, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caucus day at East Last Vegas Community Center - VIDEO
Registration begins at the East Las Vegas Community Center for the Nevada Democratic caucuses, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Democratic caucus-goers lined up to register at Liberty High - VIDEO
Democratic caucus-goers lined up to register at Liberty High in Henderson, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Thousands gather for Trump rally
Thousands showed up for President Donald Trump’s rally Friday morning, forming a line that stretched nearly a quarter mile around the Las Vegas Convention Center.
President Trump speaks to the graduates of the Hope for Prisoners program in Las Vegas - VIDEO
President Donald Trump, along with the founder/CEO of Hope for Prisoners, John Ponder, and Las Vegas Metro Police Department officials, spoke to the graduates of the program, encouraging them to get back into society to be successful, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (James Schaeffer and Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Presidential candidates go after Michael Bloomberg
Tonight’s 2020 Democratic Debate was a full-blown attack on former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Candidates attacked his past policies, his record with stop and frisk and his billionaire status garnishing him a spot on the presidential trail, all while defending their own policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pigeons wearing MAGA hats in Las Vegas - VIDEO
A flock of pigeons wearing Make America Great Again hats and one sporting a Donald Trump hairdo invaded downtown Las Vegas late Tuesday, following their release by an anonymous group: P.U.T.I.N. (Pigeons, United to Interfere Now). (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tuesday is last day to early vote in Nevada Democratic caucuses - VIDEO
Early voting in the Nevada Democratic caucuses ends Tuesday, with sites open throughout Clark County. (Michael Quine and James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Senator Amy Klobuchar Interview with RJ Editorial Board
Sen. Klobuchar speaks with the Las Vegas Review Journal Editorial Board regarding key points to her campaign strategies for Nevada and for the country.
North Las Vegas school holds vigil for 2 children hit by pickup - VIDEO
Dozens of parents and students took part in a candlelight vigil at a North Las Vegas school Saturday night on behalf of two young students struck by a truck at a nearby crosswalk. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two years until “I Do” - VIDEOY
Las Vegas locals Sam Cruz and Jeff Gaglione discuss their engagement, in their future wedding venue at Emerald at Queensridge in Las Vegas, on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @elipagephoto
Visible progress on Henderson community ice arena
Construction crews are making visible progress on a Vegas Golden Knights community ice arena in downtown Henderson.
Video shows man stealing money gifts from Las Vegas wedding - VIDEO
A man sneaked into a wedding Saturday in the western Las Vegas Valley and stole most of the monetary gifts, according to the groom’s sister. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fire closes Nellis Boulevard in northeast Las Vegas - VIDEO
Authorities said a vacant mobile home caught fire Tuesday afternoon and spread to adjectment mobile homes, according to a news release from the Clark County Fire Department. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Alpine Motel Apartment residents want belongings left behind in fire
District Judge Rob Bare began hearing arguments Tuesday afternoon to decide if former residents of the Alpine Motel Apartments can finally collect the belongings they were forced to abandon as they escaped a deadly December fire.
Missing hiker's sister on staying hopeful - Video
Karsta Lucas, the sister of Ronnie Lucas, a hiker missing at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, said Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, that family members remain hopeful the 33-year-old diabetic will be found safe despite spending two nights in the open without his insulin. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Search continues for missing hiker at Red Rock Canyon - Video
Volunteers come out to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area west of Las Vegas to help find a hiker, Ronnie Lucas, who went missing on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas High School Alumni Association helps historic school - VIDEO
Rollie Gibbs, a 1954 graduate and president of the Las Vegas High School Alumni Association, talks about the school's history and his group's donation to help preserve what is now called Las Vegas Academy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Search for missing hiker at Red Rock Canyon - Video
Red Rock Search & Rescue is looked for the missing hiker at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on Monday, Feb. 10, 2010. The man was reported missing on Sunday. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CITYPAK distributes backpacks to homeless people in Las Vegas - VIDEO
The CITYPAK Project held a backpack distribution event at the Las Vegas Rescue Mission. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fire injures one at Bridger Inn Hotel in downtown Las Vegas - VIDEO
Anna Ramirez, a resident the Bridger Inn Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, tells her experience of getting out of the building during a fire early Friday morning, Feb. 7, 2020. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Fire Department change of command ceremony - VIDEO
Outgoing Clark County Fire Department Chief Greg Cassell turns over command of the department to incoming Chief John Steinbeck during a ceremony at the Clark County Government Center in Las Vegas Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
South Korea flight lands in Las Vegas after first diverted to L.A. - VIDEO
Three passengers aboard a Las Vegas-bound flight from Seoul were screened in Los Angeles after customs officials flagged them for traveling through China recently amid a global reaction to the coronavirus. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police briefing about Excalibur fire
Las Vegas police say a sexual assault and hotel fire Wednesday morning at the Excalibur are connected. (Alexis Egeland/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Coronavirus medical supplies sent to China from Las Vegas law office
Legal assistant Michelle Zhang, who has family in China working in hospitals affected by the coronavirus, talks about responding to requests for medical supplies during an interview at the law offices of Eric K. Chen in Las Vegas Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas Fire spokesman brief media on apartment fire
Las Vegas Fire and Rescue Spokesman Tim Szymanski updates news media about apartment fire. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Teens burglarize Summerlin home
Dr. Paul Wilkes’ Summerlin home was robbed while his realtor gave a group a tour during an open house on Sunday. The crime was captured on his home surveillance system.
Las Vegas ready to enforce homeless camping ban - VIDEO
Las Vegas police will begin enforcing a controversial camping ban on city streets on Saturday, but officials say they expect to impose the penalties available under the new ordinance only in rare instances. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Officials celebrate opening of Las Vegas park named for slain officer - Video
Top public officials came together Friday morning to celebrate the grand opening of Officer Alyn Beck Memorial Park in the northwest valley, named after a police officer killed in the line of duty in 2014. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wrong-way driver causes fatal crash near Las Vegas airport, authorities say - VIDEO
A suspected impaired motorist driving the wrong way on the Airport Connector caused a crash that killed another driver near McCarran International Airport early Friday morning, Jan. 17, 2020, according to law enforcement. (Glenn Puit/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The car that Tupac was shot in is for sale - VIDEO
The vehicle that legendary rapper Tupac Shakur was riding in when he was shot after a boxing match in Las Vegas is up for auction. The black 1996 BMW 7 Series is listed by Celebrity Cars Las Vegas for $1.75 million. (Angus Kelly/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sanitize blades of loppers, hand shears before using

When preparing to prune plants, follow these three rules: adjusting loppers or hand shears so they don’t rip plants instead of cutting them, making sure the blade is sharp for the same reason and sanitizing the blades.

Olive tree will outgrow container so plant in ground

Desert willow can look shaggy during the winter because of the brown seedpods that hang from the tree. The seedpods provide a good supply of birdseed for various desert birds during the fall and winter months.

Verticillium wilt cause death of single branch

Verticillium wilt disease plugs the internal tubes that carry water from a tree’s roots to the leaves. It commonly infects a single branch, causing it to die and appear like it is not getting enough water.

Citrus plants have different tolerances to winter cold

There are two strikes against citrus growing well in the Mojave Desert. The first is their variable tolerance to freezing temperatures during the winter. The second strike is that oftentimes citrus trees flower in early spring when very light freezing temperatures are possible. Tolerance to these freezing temperatures is practically nil.

Control whiteflies as soon as you see them

Whiteflies are a bad insect problem for any plant. Their populations grow so quickly that small numbers lead to large numbers very fast. For that reason, it’s important to get them under control early, as soon as you see them.

Cutting tree roots always damages the tree

You can typically remove about one-third of the total tree roots with no problem. This is done sometimes when trenches are cut in the soil for burying irrigation lines. But when roots are cut, about one-third of the top should be removed as well.