Local and Timely High Desert Gardening Tips

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November 1st thru November 15th, 2018

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

A primary cause of so many dead trees in our area this year has been the lack of consistent winter watering over the past several years (though this past winter was a welcome exception).  Without, it, trees become stressed and susceptible to disease and insects and then they die. 

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 arrive, this will be necessary throughout the winter for ALL plants. Visit this helpful link on high desert winter watering  to read our fact sheet titled IF-13 Winter Watering.

General Garden & Lawn Care:

  • Once night time temperatures drop to below freezing for a few consecutive days, turn off your irrigation system and drain the valves. 
  • Don’t panic if you see yellow or brown needles which then drop on pines, firs and spruce; as long as the they are not at the end of each branch, it’s usually normal shedding.  If the needle die off is at the end of the branch, then contact a Moana Nursery professional for advice.
  • Regularly rake lawns to keep falling leaves and twigs from suffocating grass.
  • Fertilize lawns for a final time early this month with Bonide Winterizer or G&B Organics Lawn Fertilizer slow-release organic product high in nitrogen; it will help lawns retain green color longer in winter and color up faster in early spring.
  • Avoid walking on frozen turf; it breaks grass blades.
  • Add 2 to 4 inches of G&B Organic Soil Building Conditioner (SBC) to garden beds once the ground has completely frozen.  Moana recommends SBC because it stays in place.
  • Continue to add grass clippings, leaves and dried plant material to your compost pile; turn regularly to speed decomposition.
  • Before temperatures fall below freezing, disconnect outside water hoses, drain and store indoors.
  • Sharpen and oil tools.
  • Store all unused fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and chemicals in original, labeled containers; check expiration dates to be sure they’re still viable.  Be sure to store in a place to prevent freezing to the chemicals.
  • Empty ceramic, cement and terra cotta containers, clean and store in a frost-free space.
  • Avoid using salt-based, de-icing products in or around garden areas for snow removal. Moana recommends Sierra Blue Snow & Ice Melt which is friendly to the environment, pets and plants. .

Tree and Shrub Care:

  • Continue to plant trees & shrubs and apply 2 to 4 inches of G&B Organics Soil Building Conditioner around the base of the plant to protect their root zones, being careful to keep it 4 inches away from their trunks.
  • Continue to water newly planted trees and shrubs, especially evergreens, until ground freezes.
  • Wait until trees and shrubs drop their leaves or undergo color change before digging and moving them to new sites.
  • To keep deer from rubbing antlers on tree trunks, spread garden netting or snow fencing around abused trees.
  • Deter rabbits and rodents from over-wintering in gardens by cutting down their winter habitats, e.g., ornamental grass clumps, perennials left standing for winter interest.
  • Wrap evergreens like arborvitaes with plastic twine to prevent splaying of branches during winter snow storms.
  • Spray your broad leaf evergreens, such as rhododendrons, laurels, and photinia with Bonide Wilt Stop now and again in January to lessen winter damage.

Perennial & Annual Care:

  • Continue to plant spring blooming bulbs this month as weather and soil conditions permit; be sure to add G&B Organics Bud & Bloom Fertilizer, water well and mulch with G&B Organics Soil Building Conditioner after planting.  If deer, rodents or rabbits have been a problem in the past, plant these pest-resistant bulbs: ornamental onion, grape hyacinth, narcissus, windflower, winter aconite or fritillaria. To view Dig Drop Done bulb planting video, visit:  http://www.moananursery.com/helpful-high-desert-videos/planting-fall-bulbs.html
  • Use Molemax to repel burrowing rodents and Plantskydd to protect perennials from deer, squirrels & rabbits.
  • Perennial beds should be cleaned up this time of year, but some foliage should be left to protect the crown, even in those plants that are not being used for winter interest. 
  • Cut back peonies close to the ground and dispose of their stems and leaves in the trash; do not compost.
  • Once perennials are dormant, mulch crowns with G&B Organics SBC to protect against drying winds and freeze/thaw temperatures.
  • Winterize aquatic gardens.
  • Pot up pretreated bulbs, such as amaryllis, paperwhite narcissus and others, for holiday blooms.

Outdoor Pottery & Fountain Care: 


  • Always use pots with drainage holes.
  • Do not block, plug, or otherwise obstruct drainage holes.
  • Be sure to use a premium potting soil to insure proper drainage; we recommend G&B Organics Blue Ribbon Blend Premium Potting Soil
  • Do not attempt to move pots that are frozen to the ground.
  • Remove saucers during winter to ensure complete drainage.
  • Do not allow standing water to freeze inside pots.
  • Cover pots that are not in use — please note that pots which are planted with bulbs count as “in use.”
  • Although they are not required, using pot feet will further enhance drainage.


  • Completely drain and remove pump.
  • Place absorbent material in fountain such as burlap or towels.
  • Either move fountain into garage or other protected area, or cover empty dried fountain so that no water can accumulate and freeze.
  • Moisture underneath the fountain can cause damage as it will freeze from below. Make sure fountain is covered to ensure no moisture can accumulate under the fountain (such as run off from melting snow).

Indoor Plant Care:

  • Regularly inspect plants brought in from outside -- citrus, gardenia, geranium, etc -- for insects.  Spider mites and scale will quickly damage plants and spread to other house-plants.
  • To treat fungus gnats, use Bonide Systemic Houseplant Insect Control.
  • Pot up bulbs such as amaryllis, paperwhite narcissus and others, for holiday blooms.  For a little variety, consider treating and forcing other varieties such as hyacinths, daffodils, and even tulips, while there is still time.
  • Reduce watering and cut back on fertilizer except for plants intended to bloom all winter, such as miniature roses or geraniums.
  • Violets should be fertilized year round; we recommend Bonide Liquid African Violet Plant Food.
  • Give houseplants a 1 to 15 degree difference in day and night temperatures.  Increase humidity with pebble trays and humidifiers.
  • Continue to fertilize orchids with Grow More 20-20-20 orchid fertilizer until they set flowers; run room temperature water through pots every 2-3 weeks to leach salts from soil. Examine foliage to ensure it doesn’t scorch from exposure to direct southern sun.
  • If your orchids need to be repotted, consider using Moana Blend Orchid Bark Mix, custom mixture of Orchiata bark, large perlite, and charcoal. This mix is recommended by the Northern Nevada Orchid Society.


  • Feed high fat, high caloric content seeds to help satisfy birds’ cold weather needs.  Black oil sunflower, nyjer, peanuts and finch blend all add needed calories. Try our No Mess Plus seed blend for a complete winter food source.  You can also consider adding mealworms or Bark Butter Bits for a special treat!
  • Install a clear plastic weather dome to protect tube feeders from rain and snow.
  • Hang a cylinder feeder with one of our many seed or suet cylinder choices for easy no-fuss bird feeding in winter.  Be sure to check out our holiday cylinders – Peanut the Squirrel, Sugar the Cat and Honey the Mouse, Olive and Screech the Owls along with festive seed cylinder holders!
  • Put out suet, bark butter and mealworms to attract insect-eating birds that are residents or arriving to spend the winter.
  • Install a birdbath heater to ensure a steady supply of water.  Remember, birds still need to bathe even in winter to keep their feathers conditioned for insulation and flight.
  • 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 watch the birds it attracts.  It can be installed in the ground or on a deck.

Did you know that we can do the following for you? (call 825-0602 x134 for more info.)

  • Indoor Plant Services offers clean-air plants, design,   installation, maintenance & more.
  • Plant rental service          
  • Seasonal container & bedding service                                            
  • Custom Container drop-off & pick up                                                             
  • Irrigation System Repair & Tune-up                            
  • Bulk Material Installation/Spreading with ‘Slinger Truck’ - Call: Moana Rock  (775) 691-1220
  • Create a backyard bird habitat; have a healthier landscape this year. Make an appointment for an at-your site consultation; call our Plant Doctors:  

Moana Lane: Jon Bruyn at 825-0602 x118 or jonb@moananursery.com

Moana Lane: Lisa Braginton at 825-0602 x104 or lisab@moananursery.com

S. Virginia St.: Steve Packer at 853-1319 x225 or stevep@moananursery.com

 Pyramid Way: Michelle Gilmore at 425-4300 x303 or michelleg@moananursery.com

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.