The Scourge of the Desert: Mistletoe

Mistletoe Infestation in the Phoenix Mountain PreserveIn my last post, I talked about how plants in the desert fare compared to our watered xeriscape plants in our Greater Phoenix landscapes.  With adequate water, our desert landscape plants thrive while the same plants living in our drought-stricken desert become vulnerable to diseases and pests.

Mistletoe is one of those infestations that often attack trees and shrubs living in the desert.  Spread primarily by birds, mistletoe attaches itself to a host plant and begins drawing the nutrients from the host.  Very quickly it will spread and begin growing out of the host plant, and eventually destroy it.

If you see the beginnings of a mistletoe infestation in any of your xeriscape plants, some judicious pruning of the affected areas can remove it.  But it’s also a signal that your plant probably needs water.

Oh, and this is the same mistletoe (from the same family) that we rush to kiss under at Christmas time.  I don’t think of that tradition in the same way anymore…


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