Local and Timely High Desert Gardening Tips

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January 1st thru January 15th, 2020

Moana Nursery Teammates say, "For successful high desert gardening, NOW is the time to ............."

Winter Precipitation

Mother Nature has been generous with precipitation the past few weeks; however, it’s important to keep your hose at the ready if there is a dry spell.  Remember, plants in the ground, especially newly planted trees, shrubs and perennials, need the equivalent of one inch of precipitation per month.  Plants in containers need more since they dry out faster.  If natural precipitation does not continue, this will be necessary throughout the winter. Visit this helpful link on high desert winter watering  to read our fact sheet titled IF-13 Winter Watering.

            January 11th Seminar:  Your Houseplant and YOU!   10 AM and 3 PM - -  Inside Pyramid Way Garden Center

                        Click here to register; $5 fee:  https://moanahouseplants.eventbrite.com

Join Plant Doctor Michelle Cartnick for a tour & interactive discussion about the selection & care of the proper houseplants that will thrive in your home or office. 

Bring photos of your problem plants and/or locations where you want to place plants OR bring notes describing the natural light available and any plant issues you currently have.  Share your stories of success or difficulties you’ve had growing or houseplants and learn from each other!

We look forward to a lively & informative conversation with you.  All registrants will receive a 20% discount on regular-priced houseplants and houseplant supplies the day of the seminar.

General Garden & Lawn Care:

  • Now is a great time to begin re-designing and budgeting for garden improvements. Get out ahead of the spring rush and schedule an appointment with one of Moana’s on-site horticulturalists.
  • Regularly check plants for signs of damage from ice, snow, wind or animals and lack of winter water.  If the soil has heaved plants out of the ground, push the soil back over the roots and apply a three inch layer of mulch, leaving a three inch clearing around the base of the plant to prevent rodents like voles from feeding at the base of the plant.
  • Recycle your Christmas tree at one of Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful locations:

           Bartley Ranch Regional Park (6000 Bartley Ranch Rd), Reno Sports Complex (2975 N.   

           Virginia St), Shadow Mountain Sports Complex (3300 Sparks Blvd), and three Truckee  

           Meadows Fire Protection District Stations: Station 32 (1240 East Lake Blvd.), Station 46

           (500 Rockwell Blvd.), and Station 440 (130 Nectar Street, Lemmon Valley). Thursday,  

December 26th through Tuesday, January 7th between 9 am and 4:30 pm.  A minimum $3 donation is recommended.  To volunteer, sign up at ktmb.org.

  • Mulch perennial beds and roses with 2-4 inches of G&B Organics Soil Building Conditioner if not yet done.
  • Now is a great time to begin re-designing and budgeting for garden improvements.
  • Plan for this year’s vegetable and fruit crop. Examine your garden notes to see which plants produced best for you.  Check for fruit tree availability with Moana Nursery teammates now to find out if certain varieties will be available in spring.
  • Avoid using salt-based, de-icing products in or around garden areas for snow removal.  Moana recommends Sierra Blue Snow & Ice Melter which is friendly to the environment, pets and plants.
  • Distribute snow loads on both shrubs and garden beds when clearing driveways or shoveling walks.
  • Remove any broken or fallen branches from the yard. Re-tie any vines that might have been torn from their supports.


  • Be consistent and keep bird feeders full through the winter. Birds grow accustomed to your feeders especially in severe weather when the snacks you offer may mean their very survival.  If you leave home for an extended period, a combination of seed cylinders and seed blocks can feed the birds in your absence, or try to have a neighbor or friend keep the feeders going.
  • Stamp down the snow below feeders.  Ground-feeding birds such as dark-eyed juncos, doves and many sparrows will be able to gather up the seed that drop from the feeders if they don’t have deep snow to try to manage.  
  • Install a clear plastic weather dome to protect tube feeders from rain and snow.
  • Put out suet or no-melt suet dough (if feeder is in the sun) and mealworms to attract insect-eating birds like flickers, woodpeckers and nuthatches.  
  • Provide birds with a supply of high fat seed like Nyjer, Peanuts, Finch Blend and Supreme Blend to help them stay warm.  Especially important when there is a heavy snowfall.
  • Continue to supply fresh water in a heated bird bath or add a de-icer to a frost-proof bird bath to ensure a steady supply of water. To prevent the chance of disease, clean birdbath weekly with a weak bleach solution (1 part bleach to 9 parts water). Rinse well.
  • Store bird food in a sealed container and keep in a cool dry place to prevent spoilage.
  • Install a customized Wild Birds Unlimited bird feeding station where you can easily enjoy the birds it attracts.  It can be installed in the ground or on a deck.

Tree and Shrub Care:

  • Apply Bonide All Seasons Horticultural and Dormant Oil Spray to trees and shrubs to prevent insects. Use according to directions.
  • As we recommended in November, a second application of Bonide Wilt Stop to broadleaf evergreens is due now to further protect them from winter desiccation. If you didn’t apply in November, go ahead and apply now according to the directions.  Do not apply this product to conifers with blue-green needles, such as blue spruce, Vanderwolf pine and Blue Atlas cedar.
  • Selectively prune branches from flowering trees and shrubs later this month and bring them indoors to force blooming.  Choose branches with plenty of fat flower buds.  Cut branches at least 1 foot long when temperature is above freezing.  Lay them in a bathtub filled with room-temperature water overnight.  Arrange them in a bucket or vase and keep them in a 60 degree room out of direct sunlight; changing water every other day.  When buds swell or color up, make final arrangements and bring into a cool room, out of direct sun.   Good choices include forsythia, crabapple, flowering quince, serviceberry, magnolia, apple, flowering pear & cherry, spring-flowering witch hazel and redbud.
  • Water existing trees and shrubs, especially evergreens when there has been no precipitation for three weeks and there is a thaw.
  • Light pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs can be done this month.  Wait until late winter or very early spring before buds break to do heavy pruning.  Immediately prune back any branches damaged by snow and ice.
  • Remove heavy snow loads from evergreen branches by gently sweeping snow off with a broom.  If branches have been anchored to the ground, gently lift them from underneath with a broom.  Avoid beating tree branches with any heavy tools. 
  • Allow any ice that accumulates on tree branches to melt.  Cracking ice with heavy objects should be avoided.

Indoor Plant Care:

  • Most houseplants require less water and much less, if any, fertilizer, because they slow their growth during their semi-dormant winter period.  Violets and orchids are the exceptions.
  • Monitor houseplants for insect problems that often occur when plants become stressed due to insufficient light, overheated rooms or improper watering and fertilizing techniques.  Isolate new houseplants or gift plants before adding to your existing plants.  Pests to look for include spider mites, scale, mealybugs, whitefly and fungus gnats. Moana recommends Bonide Systemic Houseplant Insect Control, Neem Oil or Insecticidal Soap; use according to their labels.
  • Start seeds for early spring annuals requiring a long lead time before being set out in the garden.         

Did you know that we can do the following for you?

  • Seasonal Containers, Garden Design, Installation and Maintenance (plus proper pruning and grooming by our Gardener Services Team)  call 825-0602 x134 for more info
  • Install and maintain indoor plants – Interior Plant Services team features design, clean-air plants, maintenance & more    - - call 825-0602 x134 for more info
  • Rent indoor plants for special events  - - call  825-0602 x134 for more info    
  • Irrigation system turn on and inspection for leaks, broken/clogged heads, coverage & other problems by Moana Irrigation Specialist)  Call 825-0602 x134 to schedule
  • Bulk Material Installation/Spreading -- call  825-0602 x218 
  • Create a backyard bird habitat; have a healthier landscape this year.
  • Make an appointment for an at-your site consultation; call our Plant Doctors - - all Aborists & High Desert Horticulturists.:
    • Diagnose disease & insect problems on trees, shrubs & lawns
    • Identify existing plants in your landscape and how to care for them
    • Provide plant placement for DIY customers

Moana Lane Location::

South Virginia Street Location

Pyramid Way Location:

Official Planting Guide from Moana Nursery

Moana Nursery's High Desert Vegetable Calendar

Helpful Video Showing How To Turn Your Irrigation/Sprinkler System On & Off - - View by clicking this link to Moana's You Tube Video.

Click on this link for ... Helpful Landscape Articles Written By Our Professionals For Do-It-Yourselfers.