Growing Cannabis in Desert Environments

The hot temperature of 120* F doesn’t seem like the ideal growing conditions for marijuana, but this is misleading. Most plants die in those temperatures due to a lack of water, not the heat itself. The plant may also have shallow roots that are burnt in the hot upper layers of the soil.

If a marijuana plant gets enough water in hot temperatures, the water gets down to the roots of the plant. The deeper layers of the soil don’t have the extreme temperature changes that the top layers due in the heat.

In the summer months, you don’t want the soil to dry out. The roots draw up the water, and this is transferred to the leaves of the marijuana plant. If the soil gets dry, then the cells in the leaves don’t get the water that they need. Leave will wilt and lose turgidity. As the plant dries out, more cells die off. Plants face a lot of stress even if there is a little bit of wilting. The lack of water causes damage to the plants. Plants can die in just a few hours if they don’t get water at the first sign of plant stress.

Leaves may droop during the hot test parts of the day even if enough water is present. This is a protective measure by the plant and not necessarily a cause for concern. Plant leaves wily slightly when they get intense sunlight, so the leaves get less of it. Partial shade is ideal for marijuana plants in intense heat. The soil doesn’t go through extensive changes, and the plants are more protected. The plants get enough light to grow. Indirect light in some area gives enough light intensity if no cloud cover is present, and yields can be decent enough.

In dry and hot climates, the grower can use commercial products. You can buy Anti-transpirant sprays that help reduce water loss when there are periods of plant stress. The sprays indicate that they are ideal for stressful climate changes like dry and hot winds of when you’re transplanting. Most nurseries have these sorts of products to help protect your marijuana plants.

You can also use water holders made from polymers and starch. These look like corn flakes, and they are quite lightweight when dry. These are mixed in with the soil, and when they meet water, they balloon up in the water to hundreds of times the weight. One single tablespoon of these flakes holds 6-8 ounces of water. The flakes release their moisture when the soil starts to dry out. The soil holds its moisture for longer, and there is less loss of water.

Hot Weather Growing

Hot outdoor conditions can be ideal for the growing of marijuana. The crops can be cultivated year long without having to worry about problems such as mold developing. The plants benefit from the intense light which provides better growth for the marijuana buds. There are challenges in these environments, such as extreme heat and the lack of water. The dry soil is not ideal for the growth of marijuana plants that love water.

Without the right preparation and knowledge, you’ll face problems. A lot of heat can easily ruin your crop, and you’ll have nothing that you can harvest. The trick is to keep the roots which are heat-sensitive hydrated and cool in the heat.

Hot Weather Problems

The extreme heat is a problem for cannabis plants. The young plants are more susceptible to the heat. In dry paces there is more evaporation, and the soil may be cracked or hard. The dry upper soil and the heat can cause the roots to burn and the plants to die.

Heat stress is another problem in hot climates. When there is heat stress, the leaves will curl up or start cupping. Leaves may start to droop if they are undergoing heat stress. If this is left for too long, the plants stop the growing process.

In dry and hot climates there are more hours of daylight and fewer hours of darkness. Marijuana plants need at least 12 hours of darkness to flower properly. Since hot climates have unsuitable dark and light cycles with more hours of light than darkness this can cause stress to the cannabis crop. (1)

Protection of Your Cannabis Crop from the Heat

When you grow in hot climates, you don’t want the growing medium to dry out. The plants drink plenty of water in a hot climate. If the plants don’t get enough water, they will dry out by the end of the day. Water the plants early in the day and ensure that they are hydrated throughout the day. You don’t want to get the leaves wet as the water droplets can magnify the heat of the sun and burn the leaves.

Marijuana Seeds

The seeds that you use plays a role in the cannabis that you harvest. You want to use good seed strains that can resist the heat of the sun. Ensure that the seeds get enough water, so the plants grow properly. Here are the seeds that you should be using as they have good heat resistance. (2)

Hawaiian, African, Haze, and Sativa

These strains are from hot climates. They can resist the hotter climates. They can resist the heat and a lack of water. These strains can go for days in temperatures that are 38°C or 100°F and higher. These strains can produce high yields despite the high heat and lack of water. The sativa strains can adjust to shorter dark cycles. Some of them even have high levels of THC. Recommended strains include THC Bomb, NYC Diesel, Jack Herer, Afghan, Headband OG, and Kaya Gold.

Exposure to the Sun

Plants should have some partial shade to protect them from water evaporation and heat. The plants get the darkness they need, and they are protected from sun burning. You can create shade by making a mesh shade to put over the plants if you don’t have natural shade or put a cloth cover over them. The cloth cover should allow for some airflow so the plants can be kept cool.

How to Grow and Care for a Moon Cactus

It’s hard to mistake a moon cactus; you’ll always recognize them by their bright pink, yellow, or orange colors. The bright neon colors are usually in the shape of round looking balls, with thorns, and they’re sitting on top of another green colored cactus. The little moon cactus is a funny plant because it’s actually two plants in one and the product of human design.

In order for the bright section of the plant, to survive, it had to be grafted to the second plant beneath. Many people don’t realize when they see these easily recognizable little cactus plants at their local plant nurseries that they’re really looking at two separate plants.

The beautiful, bright, colorful part of the moon cactus naturally does not produce chlorophyll, and the lack of chlorophyll allows for the bright, vibrant colors to show. So in order for it to continue living, human grafting to another plant or rootstock is required, and then it’s able to get the proper amount of nutrients and chlorophyll that it needs from the second plant that it now sits atop of.

Growing and taking care of these unique little cacti plants is not very difficult at all. They’re extremely low maintenance plants and caring for multiple moon cactus plants at the same time is not much harder than caring for one. They can add color and life to your window seal or porch area and because they’re such low maintenance, moon cactus are an easy choice for those that are new to horticulture.

Water requirements

The water requirements for moon cactus are minimal. They’re not the type of plant that you have to water often. Additionally, these plants do much better when their not subjected to excess rainfall. If you live in an area where it rains frequently, moon cactus will do much better if they’re situated under a covered porch, if you have them outside. You can generally tell if your plants need watering by feeling the soil. If the dirt is dry and dusty, your moon cactus would probably benefit by a mild watering. Not too much. You never want to overwater to where the pot is waterlogged and soggy and the potting soil is running over the sides of the pot. You don’t want to ever water so much that your moon cactus is sitting in a pool of soggy dirt. Additionally, it’s recommended to stop the watering completely for the older moon cactus during the winter season, that would be those that are a year old or more. On the other hand, if you have a young moon cactus plant, just a tiny bit of water during the winter months is required.

With regard to water, remember that the moon cactus calls for unglazed, shallow pots with good drainage. Make sure your pots or containers have adequate drain holes so that the water can run down and out. Additionally, it’s advisable to put a thin layer of gravel in the bottom of your container prior to adding you moon cactus. The gravel with aide in water drainage.

Sunlight & Temperature Requirements

As far as temperature and sunlight, the moon cactus calls for the temperature that you might expect for a desert type plant. They do the best in bright but indirect sunlight. Prolonged periods of direct sunlight can be harmful to the plant. So a covered porch that has some shade or an area to where much of the direct sunlight is blocked is the best location for a moon cactus. There are cacti plants that will survive through a winter freeze but to be on the safe side, bring your moon cactus indoors, or in the garage when the temperature drops below 40 degrees. If you’re unable to, them cover them up with a sheet or light blanket to shield them from the cold weather. Cactus will freeze if exposed to the elements during a hard winter so keep that in mind as the seasons change.

Common Problems

The main problem for moon cactus is root rot which is a result of over watering. The best thing you can do it enjoy your moon cactus and enjoy it’s slow growth and remember not to over water! For the most part, they a wonderful, colorful, low maintenance plant that’s easy to grow as long as you do not give it too much water.

A moon cactus is a fun, easy, colorful little plant to add to your collection and it’s especially a good choice for beginners in the plant world, due to their fairly low maintenance requirements.

 

How to Get Rid of Oleander Aphids

It’s that time of year again, the oleanders that make up much of the desert landscape are starting to grow and bud, but some of you are noticing something odd: little, yellow dots on the leaves, buds and pods.

These yellow dots are bugs, aphids actually.

The oleander aphid is typically found in warm climates like Arizona, California and Florida.

They are a golden yellow with tiny black legs and some have wings. Entire colonies can be found on an oleander plant, which tends to really creep out some newcomers to the region!

Rather than overwhelm you with scientific jargon about mating habits and genetic disposition I’ll let you in on the important stuff:

  • Oleander aphids can also be found on citrus and milkweeds.
  • The aphids eat the sap from the host plant and oleanders have lots of it. The sap is extremely poisonous to humans and pets (including horses) so be careful when handling clippings, seeds and flowers.
  • For the most part, the damage these little pests create is aesthetic, but large colonies can stunt the plant’s growth in spots. It is best to try to get rid of the colonies as you see them.

Oleander aphids love the tender new shoots, so start there first for getting rid of them.

Insecticidal soaps are effective but if you prefer something more natural, just a bit of dish soap and water in a spray bottle should do the trick.

Spray down the infected plant generously and leave the soapy water on for an hour.

Spray it off with a strong blast from your hose.

Check back in a few days and if there are still aphids, repeat the process.

In my own yard 80% of the aphids are gone by the first process and all are eliminated by the second spray a week later.

Should You Add Artificial Grass To Your Desert Landscape?

Only a decade ago the idea of putting ‘artificial turf’ in your backyard was almost silly. You pictured football field style crunch green carpet, which stunk when it got wet and bubbled up all the time. Today, fake grass is all the rage and I love it.

Here is a brief list of why artificial grass is something to definitely consider:

1. It’s not as costly to get the ‘good stuff’ as it once was.

2. Artificial grass today actually looks like real grass, only better. Every blade is perfect.

3. There’s no messy smell. The synthetic products out there have breathable pores, allowing water to flow and drain. No piles of standing water.

4. You can give away your lawn mower. Save the environment by saving gasoline, fumes and noise pollution.

5. Zero maintenance. Your new lawn never needs work! No more seeding, raking, cutting, weeding and trimming.

6. Your dogs and kids will love it. After a hard day at play, they will be mud free, saving you time and effort!

7. Cut down on scorpions. Watered lawns attract insects. Mosquitoes love standing, pounding water. So do crickets. If you install fake grass the crickets won’t enjoy hanging out there. No crickets means less scorpions, as crickets are a delicacy for those scary little critters. We all love less scorpions!

8. Your town might give you money to rip out your old grass. Many municipalities offer water conservation rebates when you pull out water-hungry real grass and add artificial turf. Check with your area for full details. It could save you hundreds!

9. Cut back on your water bill. No more constant watering and lawn water run off.

10. It looks great. You’ll have maintenance-free, mud-free, gorgeous green grass every single day and the new products out there last 10, 15 or even 20+ years without fading.

Conserve water, make your yard beautiful and have more time to enjoy the outdoors by installing artificial grass!

Desert Vegetable Garden

There is still time to plant your organic desert vegetable garden.

As the temperatures really start to heat up and our season changes from ‘pretty warm’ to ‘scorching hot’ you might think you missed the growing season for your veggie garden.

That’s not really the case.

You can still plant cucumber, pumpkin (will be ready in the fall), eggplant, melons and herbs.

As I type this in mid August I have a very healthy raised garden that’s doing quite well.

Herbs such as basil, oregano, sage and rosemary are still as healthy as ever, growing like crazy in full sun. The important thing is to keep your bed hydrated.

Many of these plants can tolerate the heat if the roots are kept cool.

Tomatoes are a bit fickle in super heat but all hope is not lost.

Few months ago I planted few tomato plants and today they are 4 feet wide by 4 feet tall, loaded with blooms and fruits on East Valley Land.

Birds and insects are going to love those tomatoes so make sure you protect them, either by planting things that critters hate nearby or putting up a fence made of mesh or wire.

Chicken wire works well. Again, remember to hydrate!

One of the most impressive specimen growing in the summer desert season are sunflowers. There are dozens of varieties and they perform incredibly in our strong desert sun. The sunflower seeds attract birds which in turn helps the rest of your garden.

Birds eat many of the insects that partner up to destroy crops and flowers.

Grab a few survival seeds or tiny plants and give summer gardening in the desert a try.

With ample water and afternoon shade (if possible although not mandatory) you will be pretty surprised by the results!