What Every Snowbird Needs To Know About Trees In Las Vegas

Each year, as winter closes in, over 37 million retirees, often called 'snowbirds', come to Nevada from the northern United States and Canada. They enjoy the milder winter temperatures that the greater Las Vegas area offers and call Nevada home for several months.

As only part-time residents, however, they may not be aware of the growing habits of Nevada's trees compared to those in their home state or province. In fact, the pine, birch, and oak trees they are familiar with are nowhere to be found. In their place are trees and plants native to the desert that have very different growing habits.

You can't grow olive trees that fruit.

At first glance, growing olive trees in the desert seems like a good fit. In fact, olive trees flourish here just like they do in the Mediterranean. The problem lies in the fact that so many people were planting olives trees that Clark County began experiencing extremely high pollen levels each year. In 1991, the county was forced to take action, banning any further planting of fruit-producing olive trees. 

To help combat the pollen, existing trees are either sprayed with pesticides to prevent flowering or the flowers can be sprayed with water each morning to prevent the pollen from becoming airborne. 

Palm trees need to be skinned annually.

In northern climates, trees need their bark to protect them over the winter. In the desert, however, many types of palm trees are skinned to remove the dead fronds or leaves. This involves removing the dead leaves from the trunk one at a time with a cutting tool, being careful not to damage the wood underneath. 

While Nevada residents like the aesthetic of a bare palm tree trunk, there is a more serious reason to skin palm trees. Scorpions like to hide in the dead leaves. Cutting back the dead leaves will help reduce the scorpion population in your yard.  

There are deciduous trees in the desert.

It can be easy to assume that deciduous trees grow in northern climates and not in the desert southwest. Surprisingly, Nevada does have deciduous trees that lose their leaves in the fall, just like northern regions. Citrus trees, although not native to the area, and the ever-present mesquite, which is native to the desert climate of Nevada, both lose their leaves in the fall and produce new leaf buds in the spring. 

It is illegal to dig up a cactus in the wild. 

While there are cacti growing in the wild throughout Nevada, you cannot dig them up for transplanting at your home. It is illegal. In fact, the theft of the native plants has been so severe that in order to protect the native landscape the National Parks Association had to get creative.  

Using similar technology to that of a veterinarian that microchips your pet, park rangers have been microchipping the native cacti that they have sworn to protect. Violators face federal charges of up to five years in jail and a $25,000 fine.  

Citrus trees do not grow as well as you'd think here.

While you may see citrus trees throughout Nevada, citrus trees do not fare well in Nevada. The desert is warm during the day, but cools off dramatically at night, especially during the winter months. Citrus trees do not produce well under those conditions. They need mild temperatures overnight to thrive. A better choice would be to plant pomegranate, apricot, or fig trees. 

While the desert landscape is dramatically different than snowbirds are used to, it is beautiful in its own way. Knowing how to take care of it properly can help keep it beautiful. Contact someone in your area for tree services.