Western redbud works better in desert climate

Q: I can never find Cercis occidentalis, western redbud, at local nurseries. Any idea where I can locate it?

A: Thanks for giving me the Latin name for this tree instead of just western redbud, because that eliminates all confusion about which tree you might mean. If you like a reddish pink splash of color on a small tree, you will like this tree when it flowers in early spring. The redbud most people buy is an eastern redbud, but it is not as suitable for our climate and soils as its western cousin or even the Mexican redbud.

Eastern redbud is the tree that people call “redbud” from the East Coast to the West Coast. Western redbud is unique. It has never gained the same popularity. This is the same tree that polka dots the Grand Canyon with rosy plum color every spring.

But western redbud has significant advantages over the eastern redbud in our climate and soils. First off, western redbud handles the chemistry of our soils much better than eastern redbud. That’s because it evolved here.

It is native to Southern Nevada and specifically the Spring Mountains of Southern Nevada. It is small, seldom reaching more than 20 feet tall, the perfect size for a single-story home and smaller patio-sized landscapes.

However, it will not tolerate having wet feet. In other words, don’t water it too often. Give it a lot of water when you do water it, and then hold off and let the soil dry before you water it again.

It is native to the foothills of dry Southwestern areas, including Utah, Arizona and California. It’s one of our desert natives.

I also think the western redbud is a prettier tree when it’s flowering than the plain old redbud.

Try our Las Vegas State Forest Nursery located in the north part of the valley. It specializes in local native plants. For information, call 702-486-5411.

Q: My tangerine tree’s leaves are curling inwards. Most have very small black spots on them. I observed the leaves and don’t see any insects. I do deep hose watering during hot summer days.

A: There are lots of reasons for citrus leaves curling. This problem is near legendary for citrus leaves, but the reason is usually environmental and not from insects or disease. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but it’s less likely.

Since this question was sent to me at the end of winter, cold weather comes to mind. Cold temperatures can cause leaves to roll. Some say cold weather can cause leaf spotting as well.

If leaf rolling was during the summer, guess what? High temperatures can also cause citrus leaves to roll.

Moisture stress can cause leaf roll and leaf drop. When timing irrigations, make sure the soil is no longer wet when the irrigation water is applied. In the same token, make sure the soil does not get too dry between irrigations. Dry and wet soils can cause leaf rolling.

What’s more important, in my opinion, is overall tree health. Plants in poor health are more susceptible to problems than those that are healthy.

In the picture you sent, I noticed the condition of the soil surrounding these trees. The soil looked pretty bad, even by Las Vegas standards. Poor soil conditions lead to poor plant health in the future.

Good soil health begins at the time of planting. I realize your tree has already been planted, but soil improvement surrounding the roots at the time of planting is a huge investment in plant health for years to come.

In the future, excavate the planting hole 3 to 4 feet in diameter and 18 inches deep at the center. Mix good compost with your excavated soil at a rate of about 1:1; for every shovelful of soil, mix one shovelful of compost.

What can you do now? Put a half bag of compost on the soil surrounding the tree. On top of this, put a 4- to 6-inch layer of wood chips and water it in. Where irrigation water is present, wood chips improve the soil health where most of the feeder roots of your tree are living.

Improving the soil improves water, fertilizer and nutrient uptake by these roots, which in turn improves the overall health of the tree. Soil improvement using this method helps remove some irrigation problems that could be causing leaf rolling. Overall, this means fewer problems for your citrus in the future.

Get free wood chips by visiting Cooperative Extension locations south of the airport or in North Las Vegas at the University Orchard in the Aliante community. For more information about these free wood chips, call the extension hotline at 702-257-5555.

Q: I put off pruning my lantana. It bloomed until about two weeks ago. Now it is starting to cycle through the dying and rebuilding process. Can I prune it back now, the normal way, and still have good growth?

A: So, I take it, you did not prune your lantana this winter because it did not freeze. Or you just forgot. Now you are wondering if it’s too late to prune. No, it’s not too late. Do it now, even though it’s starting to grow again.

Lantana is what we call an herbaceous perennial in our climate. Winter temperatures are usually cold enough that the top freezes to the ground each winter. Spring pruning removes the top, close to the ground, and it regrows again from its base or crown. This winter, it did not get cold enough.

You know it has the potential to grow from its base. Cut it back hard to within 1 inch of the soil surface and it will sucker below these cuts. Give it some fertilizer and water after you make the pruning cuts.

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.

Underground home was built as Cold War-era hideaway
The underground house at 3970 Spencer Street is one of the valley’s most unusual homes built 26 feet underground in 1978 by Girard “Jerry” B. Henderson, who, planned to survive the end of the world there.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours takes you where the locals go
Donald Contursi talks about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, which offers walking tours of restaurants on and off Las Vegas Boulevard with food samples and tidbits of history about the places they visit.
Bump stock manufacturers under fire
The Justice Department said last month that it had started the process to amend federal firearms regulations to clarify that federal law defines bump stocks as machine guns.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Longtime Las Vegas attorney John Momot dies at age 74
Criminal defense attorney John Momot, who represented mob figures and even played himself in the movie “Casino,” has died.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
Sir Richard Branson announces purchase of Hard Rock Hotel
Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, has acquired the Hard Rock Hotel with partners and plans to turn it into a Virgin-branded property by the end of 2019.
3 Centennial High School students killed in Calif. crash (Full)
Three Centennial High School students were killed Thursday morning in Southern California when their vehicle was struck by a suspected drunken driver while they were enjoying their spring break, according to a family member of one of the victims.
Retail Restroom Sexual Assault Suspect
Las Vegas police are asking for help finding a man they said groped a woman in a south Las Vegas Valley restroom. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Mojave Max at Springs Preserve
File footage of Mojave Max at Springs Preserve. (Springs Preserve)
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like