December 2, 2016

1 - Even though New Mexico's weather and climate are variable and fickle there are some good resources to help you identify plants for your garden.

Yard and Garden December 2, 2016


Do you have a list of what to plant each month for our unique New Mexico climate?

- Terry K.


I have never tried to develop a list such as you have described because weather and climate in New Mexico vary greatly from location to location. When I was NMSU Extension Horticulture agent in Bernalillo County (1988 to 1995), it dawned on me that the climatic and weather variations in this one county were greater than in some states, especially those with little elevational change and regions that experience maritime (ocean) influences. In New Mexico we experience an arid, continental climate. I have always preferred listing plants based on specific locations and microclimates. I have always tried to answer specific questions such as what kind of plants - trees, shrubs, fruit trees, bramble fruits, flowers, vegetables, etc. with consideration to the growing environment of the specific gardener. Even then, I sometimes answer with generalities or with cautions. For example, in Bernalillo County there is several weeks difference between planting dates for flowers and vegetable depending on whether one lives on the east side of the mountains, in the mountains, on the west side of the mountains, or in the valley. This is true for many New Mexico counties. Local NMSU County Extension offices are better at providing plant selection information for their specific counties and portions of their counties if there are significant elevational changes. The NMSU Extension agents are familiar with their local conditions and the plants that are known to thrive in their counties.

Some NMSU Extension publications do try to provide suggested planting dates for various climatic regions of the state. One example is Circular 457-B: Growing Zones, Recommended Crop Varieties, and Planting and Harvesting Information for Home Vegetable Gardens in New Mexico. Other similar publications are available at ACES Publications.

NMSU has published an on-line plant selection guide for landscape plants that you may find useful - Desert Blooms. The US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources and Conservation Service also has useful information at Local garden clubs and many nurseries also have lists of plants for local gardeners.

Always consider that our New Mexico climate and weather are variable and often fickle. It is important for you to develop knowledge of your specific local environment and apply that knowledge to your plant selections.

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.

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

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