PLANNING AND PLANTING
Bare-root roses. Sunset climate zones 11-13: Set out bare-root plants. For large flowers on sturdy stems, choose hybrid tea roses like the new 'Change of Heart' (pink blooms with spicy scent), 'Ellé' (shell pink-and-yellow blooms with spicy citrus scent), or 'Voluptuous' (deep pink with sweet scent). For large clusters of smaller flowers, consider these new floribunda types: 'Fragrant Wave' (white and spicy) and 'Tuscan Sun' (apricot orange with light spicy scent). All of these roses are available from Jackson & Perkins ( www.jacksonandperkins.com or 800/292-4769).
Cool-season flowers. Zones 10, 11: Set out transplants of bachelor's button, calendula, sweet pea, and violet. Zones 12-13: Set out transplants of pansy, petunia, snapdragon, sweet pea, and wallflower. Sow seeds of African daisy, ageratum, gaillardia, hollyhock, larkspur, nasturtium, poppy, and stock.
Fruit trees. Zones 11-13: Set out bare-root stock of apples, apricots, peaches, and plums.
Herbs. Zones 11-13: Sow seeds of cilantro, dill, epazote, and parsley.
Peppers, tomatoes. Zones 12, 13: Start seeds of peppers and tomatoes in a warm, bright spot indoors. Seedlings should be ready to transplant outdoors in 8 to 10 weeks. Two good seed sources: Natural Gardening Company ( www.naturalgardening.com or 707/766-9303) and Totally Tomatoes ( www.totallytomato.com or 800/345-5977).
Veggie seeds. Order vegetable varieties that perform well in the Southwest from these local firms: Native Seeds/Search ( www.nativeseeds.org or 520/622-5561); Roswell Seed Company (505/622-7701); and Seeds of Change ( www.seedsofchange.com or 888/762-7333).
Control insects. Indoors, inspect houseplants for aphids, scale insects, spider mites, and mealybugs. Rinse infested plants with commercial insecticidal soap or a solution of 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid mixed with 1 gallon of water. Blast gray aphids off plants with a strong jet of water.
Feed bearded irises. Zones 11?13: Spread a fertilizer formulated for bulbs around plants, gently scratch it into the soil, and water well.
Propagate houseplants. For ivy, snip a few inches off the tips of the parent plant, dip cut ends in rooting hormone, and place in moist potting soil. For pothos, snip off elongated stems and immerse cut ends in water until roots form, then transplant to potting soil. For spider plant, remove runners, dip cut ends in rooting hormone, and place in potting soil.
Prune roses. Zones 10-13: On floribunda and hybrid tea roses, remove unhealthy canes, then cut out thin, crossing, and inward-growing canes. Leave only five or six sturdy canes and prune them back to 18 inches long. Drop a dot of all-purpose glue on each cut end to seal the wound and discourage insects and diseases.
Spray dormant trees, shrubs. After pruning dormant deciduous trees and shrubs, spray horticultural oil to kill overwintering insects, eggs, and larvae.
Transplant perennials. Zones 11-13: Relocate seedlings of perennials such as desert marigold, penstemon, salvia, and Sphaeralcea (globe mallow).