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Home Gardening in El Paso


Credit: Vegetables grown at Ascarate Teaching &
Demonstration Garden from EPCMG Facebook

Have you ever wanted to know more about gardening in El Paso? Whether you’ve moved here recently or have lived here for many years, you can learn something useful when you are taught by our Master Gardeners in the Home Gardening in El Paso class at EPCC. In this sixteen hour class you will learn techniques and information about growing vegetables, xeriscaping, lawn care, controlling insects and diseases, and more. These techniques will help you improve your gardening efforts in El Paso’s climate.

The Spring 2017 EPCC class starts Saturday, January 21 and ends March 4.

Home Gardening in El Paso – Spring 2017     


Credit: Xeriscape garden at Texas A&M AgriLife
by El Paso Master Gardeners

The class topics and instructors scheduled are as follows: 

  • January 21 Earth-Kind® Landscaping:  Environmental Stewardship – Sarah Wood
  • January 28 Soils and Fertilizers – Rex Morris
  • February 4 Vegetable Gardening – Dave Turner
  • February 11 Lawn is Not a Four-Letter Word – Doc Stalker
  • February 18 Pest Management/Weed Management in Urban Landscapes – Mary Ann McCravey
  • February 25 Irrigation and Composting – Bill Hodge
  • March 4 Herbs and Container Gardening – Linda Doughtie Kaip
  • March 11 Native and Adapted Plants and Trees – Jim Hastings

Registration starts Monday, December 5th and ends Friday, January 20.

Read our EPCC Class Page to get the class times and information needed for registering at El Paso Community College.

How to Stay Busy in Your Winter Garden 

It’s winter so there’s not as much to grow as in other seasons. You can stay busy by protecting existing gardens and preparing for future planting, according to Dr. Joe Masabni, AgriLife Extension small-acreage vegetable specialist, in Winter Isn’t the Time for Gardeners to Sit Back and Wait. Some tasks are to remove any weeds that continue to grow throughout the winter months and to sort out any stored vegetables like onions or garlic to remove any spoiled or rotting plant materials. It’s also a good time to take soil samples and send them off for testing. The results will let you know if you need to amend your soil to grow better vegetables or even produce a healthier lawn.

Read more »

Soil sample testing kits can be obtained from El Paso County’s Horticulture Extension office by calling 915-771-2354.

Related video from Texas AgriLife Extension 

Video Play Glyph Soil Testing

The Best Date to Start Pruning Roses in El Paso?

by Doc Stalker, El Paso Master Gardener

Heart w_Happy Rose Pruning Day

When El Paso’s winter days start to get a bit warmer, Master Gardeners begin hearing a lot of, “When should I prune my rose bush” questions. The answer is, “It all depends.

Some authors declare Valentine’s Day as the traditional date for starting to prune roses in most of Texas. Others contend that all rose pruning must be over by February 14th. And yet another group of writers recommend rose pruning should always start three or four weeks before the average date of the last killing frost – which in El Paso means waiting to begin pruning your rose until the last week of February.

The truth is, Mother Nature has her own schedule for the start of rose pruning, and she frequently changes that official start date from one year to the next.

Read more »

KTEP logoGood to Grow Radio Show

Tree Selection and Planting

As late fall and winter are good times to plant trees, Mickey Merritt, our West Texas Regional Urban Forester, is the guest for Tree Selection and Planting. Along with KTEP’s host, Norma Martinez, and Extension Horticulturist, Denise Rodriguez, Merritt discusses tree shopping, tree buying tips, how to best plant trees and why it is good to prune trees in the winter. There’s an additional bonus on the show page where you can see a 3-part slideshow on tree selection, planting and proper watering.

 Kid w_ headphonesUrban Forest – Another show with Mickey Merritt giving more tips on tree selection and why El Paso is an urban forest.

Related articles from the Learn»Gardening Topics Links page: 

Regional Recommended Tree List (TPG List)

Trees for High Desert Communities

Watering Trees and Shrubs: Simple techniques for efficient landscape watering

Related videos from Southwest Yard & Garden by New Mexico State Univ.|ACES         

Video Play Glyph How to Pick Plants and Trees at a Nursery

Video Play Glyph How to Choose the Right Evergreen Tree for Your Landscape

Video Play Glyph How to Choose a Shade Tree for Your Landscape

Video Play Glyph How to Choose Fruit Trees

Video Play Glyph How to Determine if Trees Need Water in the Winter (Includes conifers and broadleaf evergreens)

New! Tree Planting Tools, by the Texas A&M Forestry service, has videos in both English and Spanish. It covers landscape concerns, pruning tips, tree selection, and common problems encountered when planting trees.

Caring for Potted Succulents in Winter 

by Jennifer Medina Salter, El Paso Master Gardener


Credit: Jennifer M. Salter

Over the past few months I have been collecting small potted succulents/cacti on my patio. Many of them are cold sensitive, and with colder temperatures here it is definitely time to change the plant environment. I brought my plants inside, but many people move theirs into greenhouses. Whatever the environment, remember that although most succulents/cacti are winter dormant they still have 3 basic requirements: light, water and temperature.

Read more »

Monthly Gardening Tips

CalendarJanuary is a perfect month to transplant mature or established trees and shrubs.  With the weather cool and the plant dormant, there will be much less stress than if you transplant in the spring.

Make plans now for spring gardening.  Flower and vegetable catalogs make great reading on cold winter days, so spend some time dreaming about your ideal garden.  Time spent now on planning will translate into gardening success, come spring planting time.

Video Play Glyph  Selecting Plants in Seed Catalogs

Sow seeds in flats or containers indoors to get a jump on plant growth before hot weather arrives. Petunias, begonias, and impatiens should be sown in early January, but warm season plants, such as tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, and periwinkles, should be started in late January or early February.

On warm winter days you can begin to prepare beds and garden areas for spring planting.  Till the soil and add any manure or compost at this time so that when spring arrives, your bed will be ready.

The life of holiday gift plants can be prolonged with proper care. Keep the soil moist, but provide drainage so that excess moisture can flow from the pot, especially if the pot was wrapped in some type of foil for decoration.  Keep the plant out of range of heating ducts, away from heating units, and in a cool room at night, preferably at 60 to 65 degrees F.

Don’t fertilize newly set out trees or shrubs until after they have started to grow, and then only very lightly the first year.

When buying plants, the biggest is not always the best, especially when dealing with bare-root trees and shrubs. Medium to small sized plants (4 to 6 feet) usually establish much more quickly and are more effective in the landscape than larger plants.

Read more »

Related articles from the Learn»Gardening Topics Links page: 

Home Vegetable Gardening Planting Calendar for El Paso County

Home Vegetable Varieties for El Paso County

Taking Care of Holiday Bulbs

If you received a gift of holiday bulbs like amaryllis or paperwhite narcissus and aren’t sure how to plant them or what to expect, watch this video from the University of Illinois Extension “Gardener’s Corner”.

Taking Care of Holiday Plants

Helping Your Holiday Gift Plants Keep On Giving

by John C. Murray, El Paso Master Gardener

Amaryllis fm calendar

Photo credit: EPCMGA Master Gardener Calendar, 2013-2014

Holiday gift plants brighten the winter months. Following some simple rules for care can help us enjoy these gifts for years to come.

Rule #1: Do NOT expose to cold or hot drafts.
Rule #2: Remove sleeves or re-pot as soon as possible. Most Christmas plants are sold in the protective sleeve they are shipped in. These sleeves can hold water and promote root rot.

Tips for favorite plants include:
Amaryllis (Hippeastrum ssp.) – This is considered the easiest to keep alive after the holiday season. After the blossoms wither, cut the flower stem 1-2 inches above the base. Sunlight is essential during the growth stage.

Read more »

Help Desk for Plant and Gardening Questions

ask us pictureThe Master Gardener Help Desk has closed for the winter and will reopen in 2017 on Wednesday, February 22nd. Until then, please submit your gardening questions using the Ask the Help Desk form. You will receive an answer by phone or email.

Check Out Our Vermicomposting Series

Check Our Facebook Page: Vermicomposting Series Our Texas Master Gardener Composter Specialist, Bev Clark, is running an 8-part series of Facebook posts about Vermicomposting. The posts started on November 14th and there are two daily. Our Texas Master Gardener Composter Specialist, Bev Clark, is running an 8-part series of posters about Vermicomposting. Click here to see the complete poster series.




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Who We Are

The El Paso County Master Gardeners Association, as a member of the Texas Master Gardeners Association, is a non-profit educational and charitable organization supporting the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in providing quality, relevant outreach and continuing education programs and services to the people of El PasoCounty. Our local volunteers receive extensive training and experience in a wide range of subjects before certification as Master Gardeners. 

In collaboration with the County A&M AgriLife Horticultural Agent, we conduct community educational projects through workshops and demonstration gardens. Members of the Master Gardeners Speakers Bureau, Help Desk, and Information Table committees provide information, education, and recommendations on horticultural topics to all residents of El Paso County.

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