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!
As I sat down to write this month’s post, as often happens after Thanksgiving, I was a little uninspired. There are many things I rather be doing than gardening this month or even writing about gardening. When I get to this point of the year, I am often ready to take a break and just enjoy my garden, tending it a little and then getting on with the holidays! So I thought – that is OK! I am human, am I not? I can tell my gardening friends like it is and I would not be surprised if you don’t tell me you are feeling it too!
I have spent a lot of time this fall getting the word out on my book, Getting Potted in the Desert. It has been a blast and I cannot tell you how thrilled I am with the response I have received. I know it was a long time coming and I kept promising those in my classes that some day this information would be available in print/published form. I keep placing more orders for copies and will keep doing so until we get all desert dwellers potted!! I plan to get it on Amazon and in an e-book form after the holidays.
It’s not to late to order books now – for yourself or for a gift.
I am also planning many more workshops and book events the first half of 2016 – Check out the upcoming events page here on the website or if you are reading this via the blog, over to the right.
Here is a quote from one of our book purchasers:
I moved to Tucson a year and a half ago from the Seattle, Washington area. I needed to “re-learn” and adjust to many new gardening techniques in this Sonoran Desert climate. Marylee’s new book is a godsend. I now have a “to do” list for every month with the information I need to take care of my landscape and pots … as well as add new plants or dispose of ones I don’t want any longer. Thank You Marylee! Kathy P.
You might want to pick up some extra flowers to make your pots company ready. Or add an arrangement to your front door. Whatever whim you have, keep it simple and save your time and energy for other holiday preparations and definitely time to enjoy your friends and family.