Issue: March 4, 2006

If trees are blooming, can I plant my garden? | My tree is blooming too early

If trees are blooming, can I plant my garden?


It has been so warm that some trees are starting to grow and some are even blooming. Does that mean it is time to plant my garden?


The weather in New Mexico often deceives some trees and gardeners alike. It is possible that this will be a very unusual year and the cold weather has ended. However, in New Mexico it is not unusual to have a period of warm weather followed by a return to winter weather.

If you wish to begin planting your garden now, plant only cool season crops. In the southern parts of New Mexico, you may be a little late for some cool season crops, but in northern New Mexico you are probably a little too early.

Now is a good time to be preparing the garden. The warm days are still cool enough to make heavy garden work (turning the soil, rototilling, and pruning) much more pleasant than in either the bitter cold or the hot days. Digging organic matter into the garden should be done ahead of planting. Don't use manure now because there may not be enough rain to leach salts from the root zone of garden plants. Compost may be added to the soil now.

Planting warm season crops now is not recommended in most of New Mexico. In the warmest parts of the state, they may be planted if protection from cold weather is provided (row covers and other coverings to hold heat at night).

For now, enjoy the warm weather, but don't get too anxious to plant your garden.

My tree is blooming too early


My apricot tree has begun blooming, but my neighbor's apricot tree has not. Why did mine bloom earlier?


The answer is probably that your neighbor has the apricot tree planted in a colder microclimate that has delayed its blooming. Your tree is probably in a warmer microclimate.

Microclimates are changes in climate over small geographic areas. The north side of a house is colder and delays blooming of plants whereas the south side is warmer and stimulates earlier blooming. Is your tree on the warmer side of the house?

Identification of microclimates and using them for benefit is a good gardening technique. It doesn't solve every garden problem, but it helps with some of them.

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!