August in Your Hot Desert Container Garden
It’s hot, and it’s humid. Ugh. You don’t need me to tell you that. August is the month to take a break from many desert potted garden chores. The most significant tasks are managing the weather and the basic needs of your garden.
Our Desert Climate is Changing
How long have you lived in the desert? A year? Five, ten, fifteen or more? I have been here since 1996 except for four years, 2016-2020. I imagine you recognize 2020. The year the pandemic began in the U.S.
No matter the years you’ve been here, you might have already seen changes in our temperatures and weather patterns. Winter has always fluctuated due to El Nino or Nina – I have never figured either out.
But the summers – oh, our summers. A few years ago, we consistently had temperatures over 100F until the first week of November. The following year we had much more torrential rain than usual for our monsoon periods, with 4-12 inches in four hours, depending on where you live.
This year we had a relatively mild June, then the temperatures went into the 100s in July, staying there but with high humidity.
You know how we say, “But it’s a dry heat? Well, that has not happened this summer, and I believe every day in July had humidity of 40-60% without any rain.
So who knows this month, any year you are reading this post.
We know these things, however:
- It will be hot – to some extent or worse- and humid.
- We (fingers crossed) will get some rain, and it will be windy.
- It will be tough to buy any flowers and
- It’s not the time to plant flowers or ornamental plants this month.
What Can You Do?
Stay inside, go to the pool, and be active in the early morning. And don’t forget your garden.
Set out to accomplish these few manageable jobs, and you will prepare your container garden to become a beautiful fall showcase as the nights cool off.
The August Checklist is below. Right-click on it and print it out.
Here are a few extra tips.
Hmmm… that’s funny – Tips!
i.e., Tipping pots (Tip #1)
Heavy rains with blustery winds can endanger tall pots with narrow bases. When a storm is coming, be sure to
- lasso the containers to sturdy structures such as pillars and posts
- tuck them into corners or
- put other, more substantial structures around them.
Irrigation and Watering Your Pots During the Rains
Do not assume because it rains, you can stop watering your pots. Here’s some information from various weather sources:
Don’t forget to water your plants, even when it rains. … Even in wet seasons, watering helps because roots need air to function, and a “cats and dogs” rain temporarily drives all the air out of the ground.
A ‘cats and dogs’ rain certainly applies to monsoon rains.
An inch of water should penetrate the ground at least 6 to 15 inches, depending on the soil type. Clay soils are denser, and water doesn’t penetrate as deeply as in sandy soils. Ideal garden soil will be moist 12 inches after an inch of rain.
I can hear you now – oh good! The local weather said we had an inch of rain!
Did you have an inch where you live? Do you have a rain gauge near your pots? Or better yet, in one of your pots? Often when we get a downpour, the measurable amount of rain is only a quarter or half-inch of rain which is absolutely not enough for your summer flowers. Even for today.
Dry soil will take longer to absorb enough water to rehydrate itself. So that inch of rain will not do enough good to allow you to skip a day. If your soil has dried out this summer, add a drop of dish detergent to a full watering can of water and soak your pots.
And speaking of skipping a day, if it rains that inch or more today, don’t assume it is enough for tomorrow. Thirsty summer flowers usually need water daily, so don’t skip them. Check the soil. If the skies remain cloudy, you may not need to water on Day Two.
Need a Moisture Meter? Here is one I recommend on Amazon.
Check your plants daily, or you may be in for an unfortunate surprise.
Keep Up with your Bi-Weekly Fertilizing Schedule
Our plants have been in their pots for several months now, during the most stressful time of the year. Experts will tell you not to fertilize plants in the heat because feeding them encourages new growth and that can further stress the hot plants.
However, that is NOT the case for your floral potted gardens. Their food has been depleted by their demands for nourishment, the heat and washing out the pots with frequent deep watering. They need more food to replenish the soil and hungry roots. I am referring to water-soluble fertilizer that I recommend you apply all year long – every two weeks.
If you have a copy of my book, check out the section on shoulder season plants. If not, click here to learn more about Getting Potted in the Desert and where you can purchase one today!
Your August checklist is below. Please print it out as a constant reminder of August’s garden tasks.
Have a safe and long days of calm Monsoons!