Are your winter desert gardens providing your home with a showcase?
As the desert moves into the second half of winter, your pots should be starting to really show off. Despite the cold temperatures over the holidays, February’s potential warming will spur your seasonal annuals to bloom beautifully for you!
You may have heard me say this before. New desert gardeners often say, “You can’t have flowers in the winter!” I always felt that statement was from their experience back home in cold winter country. I would also discover that they were trying to grow annuals that are not our winter flowers.
Follow these tips to have a gorgeous riot of color for the rest of the winter.
- Cover your pots when there are forecasts for below-freezing temperatures. You need to know the microclimates around your home. If you are in a cold pocket, you will need to cover even when the forecast is above 32°.
- Not sure of your temps? Pick up a digital thermometer with a readout memory at your local hardware store.
- Be sure that the soil of ornamentals is damp before going into a freeze. Do not water succulents, however.
- Cover the plants/pots with a frost cloth or blankets. Do not use towels or other materials that will become laden with water if it rains. Certainly, do not use plastic.
- Remove cloths after temps rise above 40°.
- Fertilize your potted flowers and ornamentals every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer dissolved in water. Spray both the plants and the soil with the nutrient-rich mixture. Water with this deeply.
- Deadhead spent flowers all the way back to the originating stem regularly.
- Be sure your pots have enough water but are not saturated continually. Soil drying rates depend on:
- The size of your pots
- How much sun do they receive
- Day and night temperatures
- Shade provided by the plants themselves keeping the soil cooler
- Windy days
You might need to monitor this regularly. But if your pots are doing well with an abundance of flowers, keep doing what you are doing.
Have realistic expectations. You need to be using the best plants and flowers for your climate and conditions.
- Don’t expect plants like Vinca and Tomatoes to survive a cold winter.
- Snapdragons and Petunias will stop blooming when it is really chilly.
- Annuals considered to be hot climate winter performers may still freeze, succumbing to the cold. Lobelia and Geraniums will be the first to go.
Take some time to devise the methods you need for your garden to become the envy of your neighbors.