9 Gardening Tips for Mesa Arizona’s Spring Planting Season Guide

When you’re searching for planting season Arizona for vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, garlic, cantaloupe, cilantro or any other type of fruit or vegetable A&P Nursery can help!  Our plant nurseries in Mesa, Gilbert, and Queen Creek are staffed with knowledgeable gardening expects who understand the unique challenges we face in the Phoenix Valley.

Arizona Spring Planting Season

The secret to growing vegetables and fruit in Mesa, Arizona is knowing your planting seasons“, here’s a spring planting season guide to help you out! 

Timing is one of the biggest mistakes new gardeners in Arizona make. The seasons in Arizona are much different than those in (Wisconsin for example, their spring season is more like autumn in AZ).

New gardeners in Mesa Arizona tend to make the mistake of planting the wrong vegetable at the wrong time.

Everyone has their own vision of a victory garden but growing vegetables in the Arizona desert can be a tough task for those who forget about Arizona’s planting cycle.

For example: gardeners in other states usually plant tomatoes in May, for Arizona, this could be the worst mistake you make. Your tomatoes will surely be dead by July due to Arizona’s 110+ heat in the summer. The Midwest planting cycle doesn’t work for the desert.

Vegetable Planting Calendar Guide for Arizona

Here’s a list of common vegetables and the best time to get them in the ground.

Vegetables to Plant in February ArizonaVegetables to Plant in February – Parsley, Fennel, Dill, Cilantro, Spinach, Rutabaga, Radishes, Potatoes, Peas (snap, shell, snow), Lettuce, Collards, Chard, Carrots, Bok Choy and Beets.


Vegetables to Plant in March ArizonaVegetables to Plant in March – Dill, Cilantro, Watermelon, Spinach, Radishes, Peanuts, Melons, Corn, Carrots, Beets, Beans (snap).


Vegetables to Plant in April ArizonaVegetables to Plant in April – Dill, Cilantro, Watermelon, Summer Squash, Spinach, Scallions, Radishes, Peas (southern), Peanuts, Okra, Melons, Cucumbers, corn, Carrots, Cantaloupe, Beans (snap).


Vegetables to Plant in May ArizonaVegetables to Plant in May – Cilantro, Watermelon, Scallions, Radishes, Peas (southern), Peanuts, Okra, Melons, Gourds, Cucumber, Corn, Cantaloupe, Beans (snap).


Vegetables to Plant in June ArizonaVegetables to Plant in June – Cilantro, Watermelon, Peas (southern), Peanuts, Okra, Melons, Gourds, Cucumber, Corn, Cantaloupe, Beans.


Vegetables to Plant in July ArizonaVegetables to Plant in July – Dill, Cilantro, Basil, Squash (summer and winter), Pumpkin, Peas (southern), Melons, Cucumber, Corn, Cantaloupe, Beans.


Vegetables to Plant in August ArizonaVegetables to Plant in August – Dill, Cilantro, Basil, Turnip, Spinach, Rutabaga, Radish, Peas, Onions, Mustard, Lettuce, Kohlrabi, Kale, Cucumbers, Corn, Collards, Chinese Cabbage, Chard, Carrots, Beets, Bean (bush and snap).


Vegetables to Plant in September ArizonaVegetables to Plant in September – Parsley, Dill, Cilantro, Turnip, Spinach, Rutabaga, Radish, Peas, Parsnip, Onions, Mustard, Lettuce, Leeks, Kohlrabi, Kale, Escarole/Endive, Collards, Chinese Cabbage, Chard, Carrots, Pac Choi, Bok Choy, Beet, Arugula.


Vegetables to Plant in October ArizonaVegetables to Plant in October – Spinach, Shallots, Onions, Mache, Garlic, Arugula.


Here’s 10 Tips for Gardening In Mesa, Arizona’s Spring Planting Season Guide

Know your Timing & Planting Seasons
Fall and Spring are Mesa Arizona’s 2 distinct growing seasons. Both seasons have specific vegetables that grown best in warmer or colder temperatures.
Gardeners from the Midwest or East part of the US should try to think of Arizona summers as winter time. This is not the time to sow seeds. Summer is by far the harshest season in Mesa. But unlike other parts of the US, vegetables can grow in the summer in AZ in you plant early enough in the spring and chose the right type of warmer-weather vegetables.

Go to https://apnursery.com/blog/garden-planting-schedule/ for when and what to plant.

1. Location, Location, Location

Location matters in vegetable growing just like location matters in real estate. Make sure and pick the right spots for growing, too much shade will keep from growing and too much sun can kill your vegetables.

2. Adequate Sunlight

Vegetable plants need at least 6-8 hrs of sunlight every day. It’s easy to have too much sunlight than it is to have too much shade. You can always purchase shade close which is very inexpensive but you can’t buy sunlight so make sure and plant your vegetables in a place where they can get the 6-8 hours of light they need and if it’s too much, add the shade cloth.

3. Bed Size

Start small. Even the most experienced gardeners can become frustrated when raising vegetables in Arizona. They take a while to get accustomed to the demands and rhythms of the Desert climate.

Start with a 4X4 raised bed. Many local plant and garden nurseries sell readymade beds. You can also construct one yourself. Other gardeners recommend digging garden beds instead of raised ones because your are using the natural soil and will avoid build-up of salt typically associated with raised beds.

4. Soil Types

Arizona soil has lots of miners but almost no organic matter. Most gardeners in AZ recommend a blend of 50-50 mixture of compost and native AZ soil. Local plant nurseries sell compost mixtures. IF you are digging your own garden, water the spot first to soften the soil and then add in your compost material.

5. Watering

Most vegetables need to be watered at least one foot deep. A good way to check the water depth is by using a screw driver. You may think your plants need more water than they do due to the dry climate but this can be just as harmful as under watering them. Plants with too much water lose oxygen. Giving them too much water can cause diseases to your vegetable and surrounding plants.

6. Master Gardener Hotline

Keep this number in your contact list: 602-827-8200, ext. 301. This master gardener hotline is operated by  master gardeners who are volunteers and it may take up to 48 hours to get a response from them.

7. Selecting Plants

Pay attention to the variety of plants you are choosing and if they are appropriate for the current season in which you are growing in. Dont plant tomatoes too late in the spring season because they take at least 90 days to produce fruit. You would be harvesting your tomatoes in 110+ heat. If you plan on planting in March, make sure and choose varieties of tomatoes that take 45-60 days to harvest.

8. Harvest Time Pacing

Due to the 2 growing seasons in Arizona, you can pace their harvest time.

It may be getting too late to plant lettuce in August, you can plant every two weeks to ensure you will have a continual harvest in the spring season.

9. Yield And Scale

Use plants that don’t take up a lot of space, unless your family likes watermelons of course. Expecially do this if you are starting a small garden. You can also space out your planting so that you and your family will have a continuous harvest of the fruit or vegetable of your liking.

Thank you for visiting, we hope you enjoyed out top 10 Tips for Gardening In Mesa, Arizona’s Spring Planting Season Guide. 

Nursery & Gardening Supplies

If you’re thinking about starting a new garden or want to improve one you’ve already started A&P Nursery can help!  Let our team help you select the best plants and seeds to get your garden thriving.  Whether you are looking for purely display type plants or want to grow your own produce, we can help!

How To Water Your Vegetable Garden

If you’re searching for a guide to how to water your vegetable garden, here it is!  When it comes to watering the garden, there are all sorts of advice available, and it can become confusing for gardeners. However, the question “When should I be watering my vegetable garden?” has a correct answer. There are a few things to consider when determining the best time to water your vegetable garden, meaning there are two responses to this question.

To learn more, you can read up about it at Gardening Know How: Best Time to Water Plants – When Should I Water My Vegetable Garden?

Watering Your Vegetable Plants – Morning

Early morning is the best possible time to water your plants, while temperatures are still cool. This allows water to soak into soil, reaching the plant’s roots while reducing the amount of water loss from evaporation. In addition, watering during early morning provides plants with a longer water source throughout the day, enabling plants to handle hotter temperatures of the day from sunlight.

One common gardening myth is that early morning watering can result in plants becoming scorched. This isn’t true. First, most regions of the world will not have enough sun to result in water scorching plants. Secondly, even in regions with intense sunlight, water droplets evaporate way before to causing scorching.

Because work schedules can sometimes hinder early morning watering, watering plants in the afternoon is the second-best option. Watering in the late afternoon or evening is the second-best time to water your vegetable garden. When watering in late afternoon, most of the heat from the day should be past, but the plants could still be dried before night time when temperatures are high. Also, watering during this time of day reduces the water evaporation, allowing plants many hours with no sun to take in the water.

When watering in the late afternoon, one thing to be cautious about is that leaves have time to dry prior to night fall. Damp leaves at night increase fungus growth risks, such as sooty mold or mildew. These can harm the plants. When using a soaker or drip irrigation system, watering up until night fall can be done, as leaves will not get wet with this method.

How Much Water Do My Vegetable Plants Need?

Generally, a good rule of thumb is to provide plants with one inch of water weekly, either by watering or rain. However, in more arid climates this amount should be doubled. Meanwhile, in warmer weather, vegetable plants require more water, roughly half an inch more water weekly for every 10 degrees above 60 degrees. So, in 90 degrees plants require 1 inch, plus 1.5 inches for a total of 2.5 inches weekly.

Typically, the average daytime temperature highs, and the night time lows is divided by 2. Therefore, with a high of 95 degrees, and a low of 73 degrees, to get the average add 95 + 73 (168) divided by 2, equaling 84. Thus, your garden will require at least one more inch of water. Because of this formula, many vegetable gardeners within hotter climates often laugh about 1 inch of water per week being the recommended amount.

For plants such as eggplants, squash, tomatoes and others requiring more water with leaves that easily wilt, the one-inch suggestion is often considered an underestimate.

To gauge the amount of watering, you can use a rain gauge or plastic container that will catch water from the sprinkler or watering source used. When the container or gauge collects 1-inch of water, or the needed amount based on the above formula, you have successfully provided enough water.

You may also like:

Growing a Vegetable Garden in Arizona

East Phoenix Valley Nursery

If you’re looking for the best vegetables and herbs to grow in the valley, A&P Nursery has the plants, potting soil, fertilizers, and gardening tools you need.  Our friendly and knowledgeable team can help you achieve virtually any gardening goal.


Growing Gardenias In Arizona

Would you like to grow gardenias in Arizona?  A lot of people love the plant but seem to struggle in our uniquely hot and arid environment.  This post will give you insight into how to do it.

Choosing Gardenia | Plant LocationSoil Prep
Watering | When To Plant 

Gardenia shrubs are hugely popular with gardeners because of their wonderfully fragrant flowers and glossy, bright, evergreen foliage which is attractive all year long. The gardenia is a heat loving shrub and will grow very well when planted and cared for properly. Growing gardenias in Arizona is one of the more successful landscaping shrubs you can choose. It takes preparation and choosing the right place in your landscape to put the gardenia and knowing how to care for it.

Choosing The Right Gardenia

The gardenia can play different roles in your garden and landscape. They grow to different widths and heights, so considering what role your want it to play will help you with choosing the right gardenia for your yard. All gardenias feature the wonderful fragrant flowers, however there can be differences between when they will bloom and how big their mature size will be.

If you want the gardenia to be the crowning jewel of your flora you will need to plan plenty of room for a larger variant to stretch out and grow. Some varieties of gardenia only mature to be a low, tidy plant that is well used to edge a flower bed or walkway. The Everblooming Gardenia only matures to 4 feet high and can be a wonderful boarder or walkway plant. In contrast the Cape Jasimine Gardenia can grow to a massive 8 feet wide, and just as tall.

The Right Shrub In the Right Zone

Plants are divided into the geographical zones that they grow best in. This is usually printed on the plant label or container. If you are unsure of either the zone you live in, or what zone a particular plant grows in, as your nursery professional.

Arizona is a large state that covers a few different zones based on geography and topography. Knowing your zone will help you choose the right types for your garden. Most gardenias grow well in zone 9, which covers a large portion of Southern Arizona. Northern Arizona includes zones 8, 7, 6, and in very small areas zone 5. Choose plants that are rated for your area and you will see greater success.

Some professional landscapers or passionate gardeners choose a variety of gardenias that have different bloom times. This means that there are more days per year where the landscape will have that wonderful aroma. When done properly, you can have blooming gardenia all the way from May through August.

Choosing The Right Place To Plant

Even when you have chosen the right shrub for your zone, where your plant it in your landscape can affect how it will grow. There are three main considerations for choosing the right place to plant your gardenia. These are which zone you are in, the soil quality, controlling moisture content, and how much light the plant will receive.

Knowing The Soil

The pH balance of the soil is particularly important for the successful growing of the gardenia. You will want the pH to be between 5.0 and 6.5. This is considered a slight acidic soil which might not be compatible with other plants in your landscape, or be naturally present in your native soil. Soil testing kits should be used in preparation for the planting of gardenias to measure the pH of the soil and to know if or how much adjustment needs to be done. If your pH is too high you can add sulfur to your soil. There are different types of sulfur available at local nurseries. Soil pH should be done months in advance if possible. If the soil is excessively sandy or filled with clay deposits you will want to amend the soil with plenty of organic compost. Be sure to test the soil where you going to plant your gardenia, since the quality of soil varies throughout your yard, especially near the foundation of homes.

Knowing The Moisture

Well draining soil and consistent watering is absolutely necessary for the gardenia. These are not drought tolerant shrubs and will not happily wait for the next monsoon season for their water. Soaking the soil isn’t an option either; soggy roots can cause serious problems with gardenias. The compost you add to the soil will help retain the water needed while allowing the rest of the water to drain away.

Setting up soaking hoses around the gardenias that are on timers will help take the guess work out of keeping track of watering the gardenia. This means one inch of water per week.  Clearly Arizona doesn’t always get that from rain, so be prepared to make sure they get just what they need, and don’t overwater.

Knowing The Daily Light

While the gardenia thrives in heat and light in Arizona full sun all day isn’t a good idea. It is best to protect the gardenia from the intense heat and afternoon direct sunlight. This means choosing sites that are on the north or east facing exposures. That will help get the morning light while only allowing some midday sunlight and be protected for the afternoon.

When To Plant The Gardenia

The best time to plant the gardenia is when temperatures are moderate. This means in the fall or spring. When planting in higher elevations or Northern Arizona it is best to plant the gardenia in the spring so the root system will be developed before the fall and colder days.

Gardenias like to be planted a little high compared to the surface of your soil. This means digging a hole as wide and deep as the root ball. However make sure you firmly pack in around 4 inches of soil at the bottom of the hole before you place the plant in the ground. Place the soil from the hole you dug back in around the root ball and cover the section that stands above the soil. Complete the planting by adding a layer of mulch compost. Make sure that it isn’t placed touching the stem of your gardenia. Apply the mulch every year to help prevent harsh temperatures or weeds from affecting your gardenia.

Gardenia Nurseries In The East Phoenix Valley

A&P Nursery has 4 locations that can help you with all of your gardening needs. From the large yard to small urban farming type set ups we have the plants, the tools, the knowledge to help get you going and keep your gardening thriving!

How To Protect Plants From Frost

While there aren’t as many days in Phoenix Valley that get frost per year, it does happen.  If your plants are damaged by frost it can seriously harm or kill them.  This means you won’t have the fresh fruit or vegetables you expect from your garden.  Learn how to protect plants from frost in the Phoenix Valley.

Protecting Plants From Frost

In the Phoenix Valley the average first day of frost varies from Nov 21st in Buckeye to around December 12th in central Phoenix.  End of frost risk days also vary throughout the valley from around the 3rd of April in Mesa and 7th of February in central Phoenix.  The difference in climate is due to a number of factors such as population density, pavement, concrete, and elevation.

While the average lows hover around in the 40’s during the colder parts of the year, serious gardeners will want to prepare for the occasional winter frost.   To do so you need to understand cold weather, how plants react to cold, the transfer of heat, how to avoid frost damage, frost damage symptoms, and how to treat plants that have been damaged by frost.

Cold Weather

Understanding how cold weather, wind, humidity, and heat loss is important to preventing frost in your garden.  Knowing when to take action and the factors that will affect the risk for frost will help you protect your hard work and investment.

  • During the day the sun warms soil and then that heat is radiated into the cool atmosphere at might.
  • The coldest part of virtually every day is just before daybreak
  • Cloudy nights insulate and reflect that heat back down.
  • The greatest risk for frost is on calm clear nights. This is because there is no wind to mix warmer air and no clouds to reflect heat back down.
  • Humidity dictates how slowly the temperature can change. The drier the air the faster the temperature can swing low at night.  This is obviously a major factor for the Phoenix Valley with our arid climate.
  • By comparing the temperatures reported on the news verses temperature readings you collect in your garden you can predict potential frost nights. If the news is consistently 5 degrees higher, you know you should expect frost event when the news says it will be 37°F.
  • Cold air always flows downward through canyons and even around your landscape. That means that if you have a slope or low point in your garden this section is at greater risk.
  • While some winds might help bring warmer air cold north winds during the winter can compound the heat loss in your garden.

How Plants React To Cold

The way that plants react to cold will vary with a few different factors.  Plants of different kinds, age, stage of growth, water content, and general health will react differently.  The plants that are dehydrated, actively growing, flowering, or are young will be more vulnerable to frost. While short days and colder weather typically put most plants in a state of dormancy, it is not always the case in Phoenix as we do have some unseasonably warm days.  This increases the need to be vigilant in preventing frost if your plants are actively growing during frost risk days of winter.

How To Protect Your Plants From Frost

The first thing you can do is choose plants for your garden which are naturally frost tolerant.  A second option is to place the more frost sensitive plants or trees on the southern and western sides of your garden where they typically get the most sunlight and warmth.  Also placing these plants near patios, rocks, or block walls will help keep them warm as these structures collect and radiate heat.

For plants which are frost tolerant it is best to put them in the lower and colder areas of your landscape to keep them dormant as long as possible. This helps avoid flowering too early and potential damage to fruit.

Frost Cloth & Covering Plants

You can help keep plants warm and avoid frost by using frost cloth or paper, never use plastic to cover your plants.   Frost cloth can be purchased from your local nursery, or you can use blankets and sheets for the coldest nights.  Frost cloth typically protects your plants down to about 30°F, while the most effective are rated for 20°F.

Make sure you completely cover the plant over the top and so the cloth or blanket reaches the ground.  Trap the warm air effectively and it will protect your plant.  Property applied cloths will trap the humidity and heat to insulate your plant.  Let the cloth or sheet naturally drape straight down to the soil, never draw it in and tie it around the trunk or base.

Note on sheets and blankets – If you’ve used sheets or blankets for frost protection you must remove them each morning when the temperature reaches 50°F.  In southern Arizona it is harmful to plants to keep them covered with blankets or sheets for extended periods of time. While it is unlikely that the temperature inside the blanket cover will not “cook” your plant it may be enough to wake it from winter dormancy.

Proper Care Helps Avoid Frost

While no level of care will make your plants invulnerable to frost proper care for them will make them more resistant and resilient. It’s important to avoid dehydrated plants by keeping them well watered.  Plants are damaged when ice crystals form on leaves surfaces.  The plant is dehydrated and damages itself trying to absorb ice crystals.

It’s also important to keep a careful eye on the distribution of water, keep it even throughout your garden.  Your soil will also retain more heat if it is dry, loose, and is covered with vegetation or mulch.  You can invest in frost cloth and covers to help avoid the worst of the frost, but don’t over protect.  Plants which are exposed to some colder temperatures will be more resilient to cold weather.

East Phoenix Valley Nurseries

For the best stock in trees and plants for your garden and landscape trust A&P Nursery.  We grow our stock locally right here in the east valley, so you know it is already ready to survive in our climate.  We can help you choose frost resistant plants, plant out your placement, and provide frost cloths for the coldest parts of the year.

Call or visit one of our 4 locations today

Best Shade Trees For Phoenix

If you’re searching for the “best shade trees for Phoenix” you’re probably choosing trees to have planted at your home or office.  Shade is great for lazy afternoons in the yard, but can also provide additional benefits.  Read about which shade trees are best for your Phoenix Valley home or office.

According to what the National Forest Service has said, “you can save on energy by having trees planted around your home, and there are several other benefits from this as well.”

Best Shade Trees Species

The National Forest Service has also expressed that, “having two trees that are each 25 ft. in height and planted on the west side of the home, and another tree that is 25 ft. in height planted on the east side of the home can save as much as 25% of A/C costs when you are living on the southwest side.” Naturally, having other mature trees around a home will also give it more curb appeal.

Velvet Mesquite Tree PhoenixChilean and/or velvet mesquite

The two of these mesquites grow rather quickly, however, the Chilean will grow to be around 30 ft. in height, but the velvet is an Arizona native, growing to only around 25 ft. in height, having a younger root system.

Palo Verde Tree PhoenixPalo verdes

The state tree of Arizona is the ‘palo verdes’, with two different species being native to the state of Arizona, which are, foothill, and the blue palo verdes. These are known for their photosynthesis, which comes from the chlorophyll from their green bark that gives them their characteristics. They both grow rapidly, reaching around 30 ft. in height. However, the blue palo verdes is capable of reaching 40 ft. in height. In the spring, both will have beautiful yellow blooms.

Palo Brea Tree PhoenixPalo brea

This type of tree is considered a hybrid version of a palo verdes, and it is popular due to how easy it is to prune into a canopy. This type also has less risks of being damaged by big wind storms.

Afghan Pine Tree PhoenixAfghan and Aleppo pine

With the long growing season Arizona has, trees such as the Afghanistan and the Syria can grow rapidly, as they are native to Arizona and will reach about 50 ft. in height. Which make them good to use for filling your yard space.

Pink Dawn Chitalpa Tree PhoenixChitalpa Tree & Desert willow

When looking for a tree that is going to add color to your landscape, take into consideration the desert willow. This tree will reach 25 ft. in height. They can have pink, white, or even purple trumpet-shaped flowers blooming between the spring and fall.

Phoenix Valley Shade Tree Nursery

If you are looking for great shade trees for your Phoenix Valley home or office, A&P Nursery is your source for the best stock.  We grow our trees right here in the Phoenix Valley, so you know the trees are already used to our heat.  Get a shade tree for your landscape, increase its value, appearance, and even provide some shade for your property.  Stop by and browse the best shade trees for the Phoenix Valley. We have 4 locations in the East Phoenix Valley.

Call or visit one of our 4 locations today

Growing The Ocotillo In Arizona

The ocotillo is one of the most beautiful and otherworldly plants seen in Arizona landscapes.  With long thin columns and bright red or orange blooms they add a real punch to the visual appearance of your landscape. While many think of it as a succulent it is technically a woody shrub, and must be cared for differently than succulents.

Mature ocotillo are grown in the desert and then transferred to containers for sale at nursery locations.  This process does leave the plant with a challenged root system so proper care is critical to successfully growing your ocotillo.

Selecting Ocotillo For Your Arizona Landscape

Ocotillo sold at local Arizona nurseries typically sell them as bare-root specimen.  The vertical canes will be tied together and they will be standing up against a wall or stacked for you to view them.  When there is space some nurseries will plant the ocotillo in beds of sand.  It is important to inspect the ocotillo to get the best specimen.

Check The Roots

The root system is a major factor in choosing which ocotillo to purchase.  The bigger the root system, the better chance you have of successfully planting your new ocotillo.  Not only should you pay attention to the size of the root system, but you should watch out for broken or damaged roots.

Buy Fresh Stock

A key of getting the best stock is to find out which are the freshest ocotillo.  While big box nurseries many times have their stock shipped in from out of state, Arizona enjoys having local nurseries which grow ocotillo locally in the Phoenix Valley.  These local nurseries only harvest ocotillo when needed to replenish stock at locations, allowing for the freshest plants anywhere.

Choosing Between Great Stock

If everything is equal, all of great roots, and they are all fresh, how do you choose?  Lift the plants to find the heaviest ocotillo possible.  The weight is an indication of how much water is in the plant and the more water you have, the better chance you have.  You may be able to request an ocotillo and specific the largest root system possible.

How To Plant The Ocotillo

With you ocotillo chosen and transported to your home or office it’s time to get it in the ground. Follow these steps to get it done right and have the best chance of it growing healthy. Make sure you leave the canes (vertical columns) tied up so handling is easier.

Remove Broken Roots

No matter how carefully the ocotillo is removed from the soil it was grown in, there will be some damaged roots.  It is important to prune the damaged sections off.  But it is equally important to leave as much as possible, so don’t get carried away like Edward Shearhands.

Condition The Roots

Before planting in the soil it is a good idea to revitalize the roots with root hormone and to let the roots soak.  This “wakes” the roots up and gets the plant ready for spreading out into the soil in your landscape.  The success of your plant depends on the size, condition, and how quickly your root system takes hold its new habitat.

Dig The Hole & Amend Soil

The hole you dig for your ocotillo should be a foot wider and deeper than the roots of the ocotillo.  The soil you dig out of the ground should be amended with sand if you don’t already have a well draining soil.  The ocotillo is accustomed to living in arid environments and watering in urban or suburban locations provide more water than they would ever experience in nature.  This makes well draining soil critical to avoiding root rot. The sand content of your soil should be at about 30%.

Planting It In The Hole

Before setting your ocotillo into its new home, you should place some of your backfill soil in the bottom of your hole to begin.  Then set the ocotillo so that the base of the plant is level with the rest of the ground.  Backfill the rest of the soil around the plant and tamp it down around the roots.  Be exceedingly careful not to damage the roots while planting your ocotillo. Create a moat around the edge of the hole to help with new watering.

Untie & Check For Position

Once your ocotillo is standing on its own it is time to untie the canes and check to make sure it is standing up straight. It should look upright and not lean to either side.  If it does gentle correct the lean and have a friend tamp the soil as you do this to help secure it.

How To Water Newly Planted Ocotillo

As will all plants the ocotillo has need for water, and should be done immediately after planting.  As the ocotillo is a shrub it will need deep watering along with spraying or misting the canes.  The cane are believed to naturally absorb surface water from rainstorms, so spraying them adds moisture directly to the plant.

Year Round Watering For New Ocotillo

The ocotillo should be watered about once a month in cooler months.  For the hot months the ocotillo should be watered about once a week for the first year or two.  It’s important to provide the water but it is also important to have well draining soil and not overdo it.  Excessive or constant water will lead to root rot, and ultimately kill your ocotillo.  This makes drip systems less than ideal as they are designed to provide constant watering.

Established Ocotillo Watering

The ocotillo, once fully established, will not need supplemental watering unless it is an excessively hot and dry summer.  While it may bloom in its first year, this is not a sign that it is established and does not need watering. They also leaf out follow rain storms, which is a great sign, but does not mean it is established.  It is important to allow 2 years for it to establish itself before ceasing watering.  For the largest plants you should do 3 years of supplemental watering.

Buy Ocotillo In Arizona

If you’re looking for the best place to buy ocotillo in Arizona, A&P Nursery is your source for the best specimen.  We grow our stock locally in the Phoenix Valley, so you’re getting the freshest plants who are already accustom to growing in the area.  We have all the tools and fertilizers you need to get started and even offer planting services.  Stop by one of our 4 locations to view our stock of ocotillo and choose your’s today!

Call or visit one of our 4 locations today

Square Foot Gardening Pros & Cons

If you’re searching for “square foot gardening” or “pros & cons of square foot gardening, you’re probably just trying to plan your new garden.  They offer gardeners a orderly and neat looking garden, but are they the best way to grow vegetables?

What Is A Square Foot Garden?

If you’ve browsed through gardening magazines or watched some HGTV you’ve probably seen a few raise garden beds which are divided perfectly into squares.  Each little square has its own type of plant.  It looks incredibly organized, yet is it the best way to grow vegetables?  We will explore if square foot gardening is the best way to grow your veggies in this post to help you decide what kind of garden you want to set up.

Who Started Square Foot Gardening?

Square foot gardening is an incredibly popular method of gardening which involved making highly productive kitchen gardens with limited space.  The technique was developed and invented by Mel Martholomew and introduced to the public in 1981.  It involved sectioning off a raised garden bed into 1 foot by 1 foot squares to grow individual types of plants.

Square Foot Gardening Concept

The idea is to create a small garden and divide it into a grid of 1 square foot sections. The size of the gardens vary but are usually 4 foot wide and either 4 foot long, or 8 foot long.  This is done so you can reach the plants in the middle by not exceeding a reasonable reach.  Seedlings or seeds of each kind of vegetable are planted in each square.

Plant Density Per Square Foot

How many individual plants is dictated by how large each type of plant will grow.  An example is a tomato plant takes up a lot more space than radishes, so you’d only plant one tomato plant.  Whereas with radishes you could pack a whopping 16 seeds in that same square foot. One huge advantage of square foot gardening is that there are no paths between rows, and no wasted space.  The soil also stays loose and there’s no chance of you stepping on plants.

Square Foot Gardening Pros

Square foot gardening offers gardeners a quick way to grow a lot of veggies with minimal effort.

Quick Set Up

For people wanting to jump into gardening quickly square foot gardening is a great option. Easy gardening kits can be set up just about anywhere including over pavement or grass.  This means it takes less than a day to set it up, fill with soil, and plant your garden.  Even if you aren’t planning to use a raised garden or easy gardening kit a square foot garden makes it easy to section off your existing soil and get started.

Highly Productive

When you plan and use your space efficiently you will get more out of your garden per square foot.  Seeds and plants are carefully selected and planted in greater density which means a greater yield.  When you want to maximize your gardening efforts, square foot gardening is a great tool to get your biggest bang from your gardening buck.

Virtually No Weeding

If you use a raised gardening set up with a soilless mix for your plants there will be very few if any weeds.  This is because there won’t be any weed seeds in the soil you buy and fill your square foot garden with.  Over time they can blow into your garden, but if it is raised or laid on concrete there is less chance of it compared to a regular traditional garden.

Minimal Effort

As the gardens are smaller and there are only so many types of plants it requires less effort and maintenance per day.  The time required for planting, and harvesting your veggies is considerably less. This is made even easier should you decide to have a raised square foot garden which removes the need to kneel or bend down to do your gardening.

Square Foot Gardening Cons

The downsides to this type of gardening is they may require more watering, have limited size, and may cost more than just planting in the ground.

Intensive Watering

Soil in raised garden beds does dry out faster than soil on the ground. In hotter weather it may mean that daily watering becomes part of your routine.  Automatic watering options such as drip irrigation or soaker hoses can make this much easier and require less manual watering.  Combined with organic mulch you can manage your need for watering.

Limited Depth

Many popular plants need more than 6” of depth to grow properly.  This means that gardeners wanting to grow their favorite plants may need to ensure that they have enough room in their raised beds by building deeper containers.  Some gardeners prefer to double the depth and go to a full foot deep.  Keep in mind the supports for your raised garden bed must be built to support the additional weight.

Limited Width

Some popular plants take up an incredible amount of room and are not ideal for square foot gardening.  Things like sweet corn, winter squash, or asparagus should be grown in traditional row gardens.  Square foot gardening is ideal for things like radishes, carrots, tomatoes, and herbs.  Plan ahead and consider the mature size of each of the different types of plants you want to grow.  Use your square foot garden for the more compact options in your garden.

Potentially Costly Build

If the soil you have in your garden isn’t of good quality you should consider purchasing soil from your local nursery.  Soilless mix also is more costly and is a option that many avoid to keep the cost of their garden down.  The cost of building the raised garden bed is also a factor which can be avoided by either growing on the ground, or by buying an inexpensive gardening kit.

Starting Your Square Foot Garden In Arizona

If you live in the Phoenix Valley and want to start you own square foot garden A&P Nursery has 4 locations in the Phoenix Valley to serve you.  With the best locally grown plants and easy gardening kits we can give you a head start at vegetable gardening in Arizona.  Visit our easy gardening kit page to see our options, call us with questions, or simply stop by one of our locations to get started!

Call or visit one of our 4 locations today

Types Of Plants In a Nursery

If you happen to be a garden lover, then you know that there are only a few pleasures that will equal to browsing the aisles of your local nursery. Below is how you can make the best use of your time and actually get a real bang for your buck.

Types of Plants found in a Nursery

While you are walking through a nursery, you will certainly find plants that are found in 3 different forms: You have in-container plants which are normally your perennials, annuals, and smaller trees and shrubs. You have bare-root plants which are normally your large hedge plants and roses. Then you have Balled-and-Burlapped Plants which are normally larger shrubs and trees that have burlap wrapped around the root balls. Plants will also be grown differently as well. Some will be kept in containers, some kept in fields, and some start out in the field but are eventually transplanted into a container to be sold.

Local Field Grown Plants

Nurseries will often times grow shrubs and trees in their fields, where the plants are much easier to maintain and are able to grow to a much larger size than if they were to be kept in containers. Field grown stock will need to be dug up in winter and early spring before it stops being dormant, wrapped in burlap and twin and even in metal cages when it comes to large trees, then shipped to the sales center. The balled and burlapped plants may actually lose up to 90% of their root systems, but this is the only way to be able to offer very large plants for any type of selling.

Once you have selected the best plants, you need to learn about the importance of their soil for their growth.

Before you select a tree, you want to make sure that you have read the tag which will list its mature height and spread.

Bare Root Stock

Bare root stock will be dug from the fields during the dormant season which starts late fall to early spring and will be placed in cold storage. Because there isn’t any dirt to surround the root system, the bare root shrubs and trees are light and quite easy to transport including being easy to transplant. They also cost a lot less than a balled and burlapped plant or container grown plant.

Cold Season Availability

During the late fall to early spring for some temperate zones, a nursery may offer you the chance to purchase bare root plants in groups of 50 to 100 for hedges like lilacs. For a general rule, bare root plants are not offered at a regular nursery as the plants will come out of dormancy and begin to grow whenever they are removed from their plant cold storage. A Bare root plant is best for those online mail order nurseries, where they are often kept in suspended animation of cold storage and then shipped to you in time to be immediately planted. Not to mention that purchasing roses that are bare root plants from a single source means that there will be less of a chance of you bringing home a fungal disease to your garden.

Container Grown Plants

Container grown stock will start its life within a container. As the plant begins to grow larger, the grower will transplant it into a larger container. The more years that it is spent inside of a container, the more money and time that a grower has spent on the plant, which actually explains why some container grown plants are quite expensive. For instance, dwarf conifers, which are really slow growing will spend several years in a container before it ever starts growing large enough to even be sold.

How to pick your nursery plants

You will be able to learn a lot from a nursery simply by comparing the available plants. For instance, if you are wanting to buy a River Birchtree and the nursery you got to happens to have 10 trees in the size you want. They are between 8 and 10 feet tall and feature large trunks that are starting to show the peeling characteristic of a mature river birch. They are $230 each, so they are not cheap, but they offer immediate satisfaction for your landscape.

Examine The Selection

Examine the trees. Some may just have one trunk while others have 2 or more. You are wanting a 3 trunk river birch, and only 6 out of the 10 trees meet that criteria. One may have pale colored green leaves, where the others are a healthy leafy green type of color. You will want to skip over the pale colored one because it is probably starved of nitrogen. 2 of your trees may have root balls that are smaller than the others, so skip over it. Then one of the 3 trees left has a large root that is through the burlap and it seems quite dried out and distressed, so skip that one as well. Then look at the last 2 trees. Either one will most likely be right, but there will be one that will really speak to you to take it home.

Be sure to talk to nursery staff members as they are a valuable resource when it comes to picking the right type of plan for your needs.

Pick Plants To Match Scale

If you are wanting to know if a particular tree will grow a bit too tall for your yard, then here is a good rule to keep in mind: in order to keep your tree in scale with your house, they need to be no more than ¼ to 1/3 taller than your roof. If you have a one story design or a ranch house that has a height of between 12 and 15 feet, then the mature height for your trees near your home need to be between 15 and 20 feet. A two story home that is up to 22 feet tall, can handle a taller tree that is between 22 and 30 feet tall during its maturity. Plant your taller trees around the perimeter of your yard, where they will not be able to overpower your house.

You may also decide that you would like to purchase a smaller sized river birch that is only $150, so that you are able to spend the remainder on three azalea bushes to plant around your tree. Be sure to limit your purchases to a number of items that you are going to be able to plant in a single day. If you are unable to plant in a single day, then group the plants together in a shaded area and also make sure that you are watering them until you are able to finish planting them in another day or two.

Nursery Plant Guarantees

Quality nurseries will also guarantee the plants that it sells to you. If you purchase a healthy and promising shrub or tree, then plant it properly, and you diligently water and mulch it, then it should flourish and thrive for you. If not, you should contact your nursery. Many will refund your money or replace your plant. You will need to have your receipt and you may also need to bring in the dead plant.

Transporting your Plants

You want to be sure that you have securely wrapped your trees and other plants for your trip home.

You have finally picked out your plants and you have paid for them. Now you have to figure out how to get them home. If you have purchased a large tree, it is best to have your nursery deliver them to your property, although that is normally an extra fee for this service. In the fall, many nurseries will often run specials. They are going to try and sell as much of their stock as possible, so that they don’t have to provide any winter care, and they may include delivery in your purchase price. Here is another helpful tip: If you have spent over $1,000 for plants, ask if the nursery can do free delivery, as it never hurts to ask.

If you happen to be hauling your own plants home, then you want to make sure that you are brought rope and tarp to cover them. Wind damage, even if you are only a couple of miles from home and driving at a slow pace, can permanently damage or even kill off your plants. Like evergreens, who cannot handle any type of dehydration in their needles.

Picking out Balled and Burlapped Plants

Tip: Avoid any plants that have large roots protruding from rotting burlap material.

What you should look for:

  • Healthy and green foliage with the supple branch tips.
  • Branches that have fat leaf and flower buds before the begin leafing.
  • Shape that is appropriate for the cultivar and species of plant.
  • Living branches. 1 to 2 dead branches will not hurt your plant, but more than 3 may indicate a serious problem.
  • Solid root ball that feels firm and moist.
  • Conifers that show signs of new spring growth. Candles should be soft, flexible and bright green.
  • Evidence that watering systems have been used. Look for muddy earth aisles or puddles on the walkways at your nursery.
  • Mulch around the root ball.
  • A root ball that is between 10 and 12 times the trunk diameter.
  • Properly tied and wrapped plants. The burlap needs to look new and the twine needs to be snug but not too tight which can choke the trunk.

What to avoid:

  • Numerous broken branches
  • Leaves or needles that are turning brown or curling
  • Diseased foliage
  • Plants showing no signs of new growth when others are showing growth, especially in conifers.
  • Limp ended branches that have dried out leaves. This happens to indicate that there was water deprivation
  • Large exposed roots. Roots may come through the burlap, but you should avoid the ones that seem much larger than the plant.
  • Branches that have leaves at the base of the plant which indicate that branches may be winter killed.
  • A badly skinned trunk
  • Twine gripping the neck of the plant
  • Trunks that move easily when the ball remains still. This indicates that the roots may have broken from the trunk of the tree.
  • Lopsided root ball, which means that the plant was dropped.
  • Rotted burlap as this indicates that the plant may not have sold past season. If the plant is properly cared for, this isn’t a problem, but you should inspect the plant carefully.
  • Trees that tilt when the wind blows which mean that it isn’t properly supported.
  • Dried out root ball. The burlap or twine will be loose.

Picking Bare Root Plants

What to look for:

  • Well-formed stems
  • Ready to burst leaf nodes
  • Moist roots
  • Evenly distributed and healthy basal roots that have multiple feeder roots

What to Avoid:

  • Unfurled leaves, especially ones that are sunlight starved and white. This indicates that the plant broke dormancy.
  • Broken stalks on multi-branched plants like roses
  • Broken roots especially the large taproots
  • Root system that is too small to support the plant
  • Roots that twisted into a ball
  • Lopsided roots

Picking Container Plants

What to look for:

  • Plants with foliage on most branches. The leaves should be uniformed colored.
  • Sleek, healthy looking branches that are not dried out.
  • Well established roots that are surrounded by firm soil. If able, gently pull the plant from the container to inspect the roots.
  • Leaf and bloom nodes are ready to burst even in early season.
  • Shape that is appropriate for the cultivar and species of the plant.
  • Uniformly moist soil.

What to avoid:

  • Healthy foliage on top but brown foliage underneath.
  • Broken branches.
  • Diseased foliage
  • Large roots coming from the container
  • Roots that have been exposed on the This may actually indicate that the plant did not sell during the last season and that the vital soil and nutrients have been lost.
  • Pot bound roots. Pull the plant from its container and check to see if the roots encircle the plant, if it does that means that it has grown too long in the container.

Phoenix Valley Nursery Stores

If you live in the Phoenix Valley A&P Nursery has 4 locations to serve you.  The east valley locations are easy to get to and are full of top quality locally grown plants, shrubs, trees, and other great options for your landscape.  Our team has a wealth of knowledge about all things green and can help you start your garden or landscaping project.  We can also help you find the perfect tools to maintain your landscape to ensure it stays healthy and looking its best.

Click To See All The Types Of Plants In Our Nursery

Call or visit one of our 4 locations today

Stop Fall Tree Pruning | Save The Trees!

If you’re wondering how much pruning your tree needs in the fall, this post will make clear exactly how much you need.

Fall is that time of year that really makes people want to start pruning more than a vampire craves blood. With the fall garden clean up starting, maybe it might be all the mulching raking that is causing people to go insane. Before you begin hacking at your bushes and trees, take a bit of advice from a gardening expert.

Fall Tree Pruning

The rules for fall pruning is simple. Just don’t prune during the fall. That means nothing, zilch, zero, nada during the fall. That goes for plants and shrubs and even trees. Make a sign that states leave the pruning alone until winter or spring. There isn’t any type of exceptions. Don’t prune during the fall.

If you feel as if you got scolded by a teacher, then let that be a reminder that fall isn’t the time that you are supposed to trim your shrubs and trees, even though that the leaves that have fallen off have really exposed the imperfections. Put those pruning shears back into your shed until winter or longer. Below are a few pruning basics that you can use whenever it is time to trim back your shrubs and trees which is much safer:

Understand why Fall isn’t the best time to prune

It should be stressed that pruning your shrubs and trees now will stimulate new growth when your plants are trying to go dormant and this will weaken your plant. If you prune during a warm day then sap will rise up through your plant then the temperature drops to below freezing at night and then you don’t have anything that is pretty.

Instead of pruning in the fall, prune in the dead of winter or during early spring. That is if you can stop yourself. Spring bloomers will often get their haircut after they have finished flowering, but get over this weird obsession with pruning, you need to know that there are fruit trees and only a few plants that actually need to be pruned and many gardeners will prune too much and not too little.

Still, properly pruning overgrown fruit tress or flowering shrubs near your home will help those plants to produce more fruit and flowers, which benefits wildlife. Doing it wisely can even help your trees and plants a way to fend of pests and diseases. Just remember, don’t prune during the fall. Waiting until it is winter means that your plants are mostly dormant and because the leaves have fallen, you can easily see what you are doing. For those early spring bloomers that only need light pruning, it is best to do so right after they have finished blooming. For the overgrown shrubs, winter pruning is much better.

Don’t Prune when it is wet

Just a general rule, don’t prune anything if it is damp outside. Don’t prune if it is wet because it will spread diseases. Damp weather actually encourages microbe growth which makes the most of the damage that pruning does. You will want to wait until the sun has been out for a while and then it dries out and kills the bacteria and mold.

Know how to Hack

Pruning can actually add more air and sunlight to filter through your shrubs and trees, which helps to keep them really healthy. Whenever it is time for you to prune, you need to focus on removing dying or dead branches. If you see a sick brank, cut between the healthy and diseases spot. It is also recommended that you prune whenever branches cross each other or rub each other, or if the branch is growing vertically. You can take off the low branches that mess with foot traffic or your lawnmowers. Cut the branch as close to the source of the plant as you can. It is best to prune back to the main stem. If you leave a stub that is sticking out, it is a place where insects and bacteria can live. You also want to cut at the same angle that your branch collar is, which is near the furrow of bark where the trunk and branch meet. If you have done it right, then a circle of healthy callus will swell up around that spot.

Know what you are hacking

There is a really long list of shrubs and trees that you can prune from winter until sap starts back up in spring. Some of them are beauty berries, Callory pears, poplar, junipers, cherries, glossy abelia, hydrangeas, crabapples, Bradford pears, spruce, sumac and plums. But, just because some trees can ooze sap whenever they are pruned in the winter, you are best to wait until summer to prune elm, dogwoods, maples, walnuts and birches.

Keep your tools clean

It doesn’t matter what type of pruning tools you are going to use; you need to make sure that you are keeping them clean. If you happen to have cut out diseased branches, you want to make sure that you have thoroughly cleaned your tools before you move onto another tree, which helps to avoiding spreading diseases. You should disinfect your tools by using one to two teaspoons of bleach to warm water. You can also use soapy hot water which will kill most germs and remember to dry your tools very well afteryou have washed them. If you are unable to trim from the ground using a pole pruner or if you need to prune around a power line, then hire a professional instead of climbing up high and doing it all on your own.

Do your homework

We offer general pruning guidelines, but if you are wanting more specific information on your shrubs and trees that are growing on your property, then ask your master gardeners who are involved with your local tree nursery.

Trees & Tree Pruning Tools

If you need to get new tools for when it’s the right time to prune your trees, or you want to add new trees to your landscape, A&P Nursery has everything you need.  From the trees to gloves and fertilizer we can cover every step of the process.  In fact we partner with a number of landscaping companies that can do the work for you in planting  a new tree, tree trimming, and even tree pruning.

Call or visit one of our 4 locations today

How to Grow Grapes In The Phoenix Valley

If you are searching how to grow grapes in the Phoenix Valley you’re one of many Arizona residents that want to grow their own grapes.  Grapes are a great addition to any garden and are a welcomed refreshing snack.  Not only do grape vines produce the fruit but they add lots of greenery to make your landscape more lush and green.

Right Location For Growing Grapes

The first step in growing grapes in your Phoenix landscape is choosing the right location.  While most plants need some shade throughout the day grapes are the exception.  They thrive in full sun and at worst a leaf or two might dry up.  You can minimize this by staying on top of your watering. You should also choose a location where there will be room for the grape vine to grow up and spread out without overrunning other plants or your property.

If you need shade for other plants in your landscape grapes can actually be used to provide a sunscreen to protect the more sun sensitive plants.

Grape Vine Support & Training

Grapes grow best when the vine has something to grow up and expand on such as a trellis, fence, arch or even single stake. You should avoid using hurricane or chain link fences as the plant will overcome the openings in the fencing.

Training your grapevine will help you establish a straight trunk and better root system.  After your vine has grown new shoots during the first growing season you will need select the straightest one and tie it off to your stake, fence, or trellis. It may seem scary but remove all other shoots after tying off your best one.  Let your chosen shoot grow to about 5 feet and cut it back to about 42 inches at the end of the growing season.

Watering Your Grape Vines

Growing plump and delicious grapes starts with getting the watering right. While some plants need lots of specific attention grapes do well on your grass watering schedule. So if you choose a location that already gets water from your sprinklers you may not need to worry about any supplemental watering for your grape vines.

Protect Your Grapes From Pests

It isn’t just you and your family that crave the flavor of grapes, bugs and birds around your landscape will want a bite.  To protect your grapes it is a good idea to use mesh bags to keep the birds away from your grapes. Attach the bags securely with ties, rubber bands, and check them often to ensure they aren’t getting untied or loose.

Insects are also an issue that you need to be proactive about.  If you see leaves getting areas that are lighter or transparent you should flip the leaf over to check for caterpillars. If you see black flying bugs which are slow, aimless, and seem harmless you need to take action. Your local nursery will have pesticides which will help keep the bugs off and your grapes healthy.

Pruning Your Grape Vines

Pruning can be done by two different methods, cane pruning and spur pruning.  Cane pruning is usually the best for home gardens while spur pruning is most common with commercial grape growing.  We’re going to focus on can pruning as full time grape growers already have their techniques mastered.

Cane Pruning Grapes

You need a wire support system to get started that is 42 inches high and another 14 inches above that. The wire acts as a place to tie your vines to and to help prevent shoot breakage.  For the best grape vines you should wait until the 3rd year to grow fruit.  You’ll need to resist letting the grapes grow in the second year and remove the clusters before they bloom. If you don’t do this your vine will be stunted and not grow as much or as well when mature.

Call or visit one of our 4 locations today