Ask a Master Gardener

This is our Master Gardeners second question and answer article in a monthly series based on your common gardening questions for this time of year. It was nice to see many of you come by our Master Gardener booth at the County Fair.

Q. What causes pomegranates to split?

A. Splitting is a common problem with pomegranates in our hot, dry climate and inconsistent watering is probably the reason. Also, rain could be a contributing factor. When the trees are watered in an inconsistent pattern or their watering cycle is suddenly changed, the splitting is more likely to occur. The optimal watering cycle for pomegranates is once a month in the cooler time of year. However, once daytime temperatures are consistently above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, the trees need watering every 10 to 14 days. Deep watering needs to wet the soil at a depth of 2 to 3 feet. To find out how far down the water is going, push a rod down into the soil around the tree. If water is not penetrating as deeply as needed, increase your watering time.

Q. My fruitless mulberry had leaves turning yellow and falling off when it got hot this past summer. What caused this?

A. There are several reasons for tree leaves to yellow. The probable cause is a lack of deep water. You will need to water deeply so the root system receives water at the same rate as the leaves transpire. This is more desirable than shallow watering because with too little, the leaves are transpiring faster than the roots can take it in. Since most roots are at the top 2 feet of soil, it is best that water reaches at least down this far and preferably 3 feet.

Q. I noticed chrysanthemums are being sold locally now. Can I plant them outdoors in the Kingman area?

A. Yes, chrysanthemums do well in our area (and in most hardiness zones) and are in full bloom beginning in September until the first hard freeze. It is preferable to plant "Hardy" varieties which do best outside - plant in either spring or fall. There are many flower forms like anemone, pompom, quill, spider and single daisy and come in many colors. Chrysanthemums prefer rich, well-draining soil. Plant in the ground or in containers, spring or fall. Watering requirements are moderate and if in a container, water every day in the hot summer months. Morning sun is preferred for at least five hours daily. Buds open under "short" daylight conditions so expect blooms in spring and fall. Fertilize monthly until buds appear. Buds will open for about a month and prune or pinch off spent flowers. If the plant has grown too tall, prune down to a more compact size. After freezing, leave the brown foliage all winter to protect new growth and promote new growth faster in the spring.

Q. Can trees and shrubs be planted in the fall?

A. The cooler temperatures of fall make this season the best time to plant trees and shrubs in your landscape. Since our soil generally does not freeze in the winter, the roots will establish themselves in our winter's lower temperatures unless you live at higher elevations. It gives them a good start before spring and our hot summers. Planting native trees and shrubs that adapt best to this area will give the greatest success.

To submit questions, please email the Kingman Area Master Gardeners at mohavece@cals.arizona.edu