ASK CARIANNE – New to Southern Arizona. Need gardening primer

Posted May 08, 2021

Jerry asks: I’m from Chicago and new to Southern Arizona. I love it here. Can you tell me about the seasons and gardening here, please!

Thanks, Jerry

Dear Jerry,

Like you many of us are from more temperate regions (me, too – I grew up in Maryland). One might find the seasons to be monotonous here at first – just various shades of hot and dry. But after a few years, the beautiful nuances of the seasons come into clearer focus. Your eyes adjust and instead of just “brown” the amazing diverse shades of green are revealed. And here in the Sonoran Desert, we don’t just have FOUR seasons – we have FIVE! Quick primer below.


May and June. Suddenly it is 100 degrees – where did that come from? New plantings need extra support to get through this period. Replenish wood mulch, adjust your watering schedule, and if you have an irrigation system, do a check-up! Stars of the season? Beautiful cacti blooms keep many pollinators happy!


[fingers crossed] Generally July – September. When the desert really comes alive. A whole new suite of  plants start blooming and it is a great time to add new plants while the relative humidity is high!


Generally October – November. It is really imporant to include late-bloomers in your pollinator landscape – many plants in the Sunflower Family will bloom into fall.

Now is the time to put down native spring wildflower seeds!


Generally from November through January. With occasional freezing temperatures at night, frost-sensitive plants may need extra protection.


Generally from February through April – and in years with good winter rainfall, the time for glorious wildlfower displays!