Southwest Yard and Garden

This column comes through the Grant County Extension Service out of New Mexico State University.

mistletoeQuestion: There’s mixed advice out there on how to control mistletoe. What do you recommend?

Question submitted via Sandoval County Extension Agent Lynda Garvin

mike burbano saguaro in las crucesThis six-foot-tall cactus in a Las Cruces yard is likely to be a Sonoran saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), even though it has grown remarkably fast. Photo credit Mike B.By Dr. Marisa Thompson

Question: Is this a saguaro in my front yard in Las Cruces? I’ve heard that saguaros do not grow well in this area. I planted it in 2012 and it is growing about 1 foot each year. It’s currently close to 6 feet tall. -Mike B., Las Cruces

Answer: Yes, probably, but maybe not.

By Dr. Marisa Thompson & Dr. Carol Sutherland

Reprint from November 2017

mesquite girdler. photo credit dr. salvador vitanza previously with texas agrilife el paso txMesquite girdler. (photo credit: Dr. Salvador Vitanza, previously with TexasAgriLife, El Paso, TX)


Our mesquite trees are experiencing what appears to be a girdler bug attack. This is the first time we have experienced this. How harmful are they, and what can be done to rid these pests?

Jack D., Doña Ana County, NM

by Marisa Thompson, with guest contributor, Dr. Amanda Skidmore, NMSU Extension Integrated Pest Management Specialist for Urban and Small Farms

Question: I've always been told that squash bugs shouldn't be squashed, but should be placed in a covered jar or container because, when squashed, they emit a pheromone-binding protein that the other squash bugs can sense from distances and will be attracted to their brothers in my yard. Is this fact or fiction?

-Carol B., Los Lunas

Question: Back in April, I had questions about what turned out to be aphids on my peach trees. Now my melon plants are covered in squash bugs. Is there anything I can do to control them this late in the season?

Lorraine J., Los Lunas

Answer: I wish I had better news for gardeners with the squash bug blues. Squash bugs are difficult to control, and even more so as the bugs mature because insecticides are a much less effective tool. 

Some people delay planting squash until July to avoid the squash bug, but this tactic is not foolproof. As many gardeners have reported this year, delayed planting seems to work some years, but not reliably. 

Guest columnist this week: Alissa Freeman - Senior Program Specialist and Director of the pollinator-friendly NMSU Learning Garden at the NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas.

Question: I recently attended a native plant seed-saving workshop and collected a few different native plant species. How do I grow these seeds?  

Emilio B., Belen, NM

Answer: Not only are native plants a beautiful addition to any landscape but they also require less water, are adapted to our climate, and are a vital resource for native bees and other pollinators. Many native plants are available commercially, but it can be a fun and rewarding experience to try growing native plants at home. The first step is collecting seeds—go on hikes, walk around the bosque, and find your favorite areas that have plants of interest. When collecting seeds, make sure they are dry and ready to harvest and only collect a small percentage of available seed to keep the plant population healthy. Following seed collection, clean the seeds by peeling away excess plant material. Be sure to dry seeds out before storing in a cool, dry location to prevent molding.  

822swygRose leaves with symptoms of salt burn. Photo credits L. Peters.

Question: Can you tell what seems to be plaguing the various rosebushes in my backyard?

– L. Peters, Sandoval County, NM

Guest columnist this week: Alissa Freeman - Senior Program Specialist and Director of the pollinator-friendly NMSU Learning Garden at the NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas.