Have a wonderful holiday season!
I hope your New Year’s Resolutions include
Getting Potted with Me!
Planning for a garden of color in dry and hot climates can be challenging. Especially if you prefer not being wedded to your container garden and the garden hose. Choosing low water bloomers will not only provide you with an easier solution other than cactus but will give you that desired living color focal point in your desert landscape all summer long.
Choose low water plants that require similar light and water and those that will do well in your hot climate.
Be mindful of the moisture in the pot throughout the summer as the heat escalates.
Plants used in this combination include: (Clockwise from Back Left)
Gopher Plant (Euphorbia rigida)
Blood Flower (Asclepias currasavica) Of the Milkweed family, Monarch butterflies need to feed on milkweed plants as caterpillars and so do not be surprised if you find a Monarch chrysalis on this plant
Parrot’s Beak (Lotus berthelotii)
Lantana (Lantana camara)
Note – except for the Parrot’s Beak, the plants in this pot are critter resistant!
We see Bougainvillea all over our desert landscapes. With a larger number of patio homes, these large plants are often too unwieldy to support in the patio landscape. Desert Dwellers often ask about planting Bougainvillea in pots so they can enjoy them year-round in hot climates. However, Bougainvillea are seriously particular, so follow these tips to increase your chances of success!
As the desert moves into the second half of winter, your pots should be starting to really show off. In spite of 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 the rest of the winter.
You might need to monitor this on a regular basis. But if your pots are doing well with an abundance of flowers, just keep doing what you are doing.
Have realistic expectations. You need to be using the best plants and flowers for your climate and conditions.
Take some time to devise the methods you need for your garden to become the envy of your neighbors.
A 24” pot with one central planting will need approximately fourteen (14) “4” inch” plants. If you select any gallon plants, they can replace 3-4 smaller ones. I urge you to use 4” plants and not six-packs. (Ask me why!)
Important: When you go shopping and bring your plants home, water them in well and plant as soon as possible – as in the same day. If you have to wait until the next morning, place them in the shade to rest until the morning.
1. Garden and water in the very early mornings.
Who wants to be out in the heat?
2. Increase watering frequency to be sure pots don’t dry out.
You want your pots to be damp throughout.
3. Deadhead your spent flowers weekly to encourage new buds
Doing this weekly makes it be less of a chore.
4. Avoid pruning plants now that the desert has heated up.
Pruning now leads to sunburn by exposing previously shaded stems.
5. Keep up with bi-weekly pot fertilizing with a water-soluble fertilizer.
Be sure the soil is already damp before applying fertilizer.
Special notes on roses (From the Rose Society of Tucson)
Water, water, water:
Spray off your roses daily with water: The No.1 enemy of roses during the summer in hot and dry climates are spider mites. Spider mites, which look like small salt-and-pepper particles under leaves, will suck the leaves dry until they turn light brown and fall off. Keeping as much foliage on your plants is crucial to rose health during the summer.Every morning, spray off your roses with a jet of water supplied by a nozzle attached to your water hose. YMake sure you spray underneath the leaves of the plant. By doing this daily, this will prevent spider mites from getting started. The added benefit is adding humidity to your garden which is vital in arid summer conditions.
Do not deadhead or remove dead leaves during the heat. Every bit of added shade helps.
Did you grow up in the desert? I didn’t and a huge number of people I have met over the last 20 years are not from the dry, hot climate we have come to love. We came from ‘up north’, ‘back east’ or ‘out west.’ We may have gardened easily in these regions with ample rain, plenty of sun, simple conditions. Except maybe for deer, that is.
Many transplanted gardeners yearn for their gardens from back home. Often we think – it’s just not possible to create the bountiful and joyful garden that we had in our milder climates; at least in the summer. Now, faced with the challenges of the desert, we might give up and not even bother once we see the thermometer hitting the 95o mark.
Today I want to give you permission to try something different. I want your pots to not only survive the desert heat but have gardens that thrive all summer long. Like something that you loved back home.
The opening photo is a bed of coleus. These wonderful, colorful leafy plants are being hybridized to handle increasingly hot climates. Some even can take a moderate amount of sun. I suggest you plant them when the nights are still slightly cool in order to become established before the heat sets in and be sure to choose a location that gets morning sun only and then providing them with ample water.
This second picture of coleus IS in full sun in the higher elevations of the mid-desert. Imagine how this mound of plantings shade its soil maintaining a cooler temperature for its roots.
The pot is about 28” in diameter and holds an abundant volume of soil that will insulate the roots. It is amazing that even in this all-day sun setting, it thrived!
In the low desert such as Palm Springs and Phoenix, I would advise you to place this pot where it will be in the shade by 10am.
In the high desert, plant coleus after all danger of frost is past and feel free to place in sunny locations.
Use the principles listed in the previous paragraph and the tips below to tempt fate with plants that you would love to try again. Don’t spend your entire savings on your first attempt though, work with only a few plants at a time. For instance, in this next photo is a bed of Marigolds. Experts have said; ‘Do not endeavor to grow Marigolds all summer in the desert.’
This photo was taken in Tucson, Arizona in August a few years back. The bed was planted with 4 inch transplants in the early spring in full sun. As the sun made its northern journey across the horizon, the bed was positioned so it was tucked into shade from the short wall behind it. With plenty of water and good air circulation, the marigolds thrived.
Success takes three elements; the right spot with the right conditions, your love for the plants and a little amount of luck.
What plants from “back home” have you succeeded in planting, stretching the limits of your desert garden?by
How do you remember our winter so far this year? Rainy, chilly, downright cold?
Do not let a warm week in February allow you to think that winter is over. We can and most likely will have freezing temperatures this month and possible into March. Average last frost date is March 15 and remember – That is the AVERAGE!!! I just read that Chad Borseth from Native Seed Search and Facebook Group Tucson Backyard Gardening posted that he bases the last freeze being over by when his Mesquite tree blooms. Great tip from one of Tucson’s experts.
Frosted or Frozen Plant Damage
Have a beautiful month! February and March are our spring months and we want to get out and enjoy our splendid winter gardens!