Tag Archives: container garden

To Drip or Not to Drip – Gain Time and Beauty in your Desert Potted Garden!

Homeowners do have the best intentions. We create beautiful container gardens and promise ourselves we will water our pride and joy faithfully. Living here in the desert can mean watering daily. And in the severe heat, we have much of the year, when we miss a day; it is likely that our beautiful flowers are toast. Needing consistent watering is where adding a drip irrigation line for your potted garden would be beneficial.

90% of Plant Failure in Hot and Dry Climates is Due to Inappropriate Watering

If this sounds like you and you continually have your potted gardens dying, the most reliable way to keep your pots healthy is to water them automatically with a dedicated irrigation valve and timer.   When I first added a drip irrigation system to my home pots, I began saving an hour a day not having to hand water!

Two Methods to Add Irrigation to your Pots

Method 1: Dedicated Line for Pots on your existing system

Preferred: You have two options for automatically watering your pots. The preferred method is through an existing irrigation system. If your  timer can accommodate a new valve and run times, you can use it.  Pots typically are watered five to ten minutes a day during the hot periods of the year. You do need to put in a dedicated valve for your pots.

Not Recommended: If you are tempted to hook your pots up to your landscape line, they will be getting one to two hours twice a week or so. A run-time of an hour or more is excessive water, and you risk losing your plants and the pots from the abundant water and “erratic” watering schedule. This may mean you have to have another valve put in at the expense of $500 – $1200 when installed by a professional but well worth it when you think of the value of your time and materials you buy for your gardens that potentially die quickly.

The beauty of a good timer is that you can change the run time in one-minute intervals. The timer can set for 5 minutes and then adjusted by one-minute increments until your pots are getting the right amount of water. Additionally, if the water is running through the pots too fast, you can run it for a shorter period and more often during the day.

Method 2: Battery-Operated Timer

If you are unable to put a potline into your landscaping system, an alternative is to add a y-valve to a hose bib near the location of the pots and connect them to a simple battery-operated timer.  These timers are inexpensive and typically allow for many start times. A good timer will cost between $30, and $50 and the rest of the parts will run less than $100 depending on how many pots you have.

What I mean by a good timer is one that can be set at one-minute increments. Some of the less expensive models only have a spin dial that is limited to five to 30 minutes increments. This will never do for container gardens.

A battery-operated system is an excellent solution for vacation time too! You can set something up for pots clustered in a part-sun area and ensure they receive adequate water while you are away. I still recommend that you have someone check on them to make sure nothing has gone awry.

Just be sure to change the batteries twice a year and do not wait for them to run out. Daylight savings time is an excellent way to remember – and while you are at it, change the batteries in your smoke detectors too!

Adjustable Emittor on Stake is great for pots

An Adjustable Emittor on a Stake works perfectly in your pots

Regardless of which method you use, you want to use the right emitters for your pots. An adjustable emitter on a stake is my preferred method. The outpInline emittor on laser 1/4" lineut of water is in patterned like wheel spokes and is adjustable from about 4” – 10”. In larger pots, you would use two or three emitters, each off their own ¼” line.

Another option is an in-line emitters spaced every 6” on a 1/4” line. These lines will need a longer run time to water your pots thoroughly, but they do work well with gardens that require a slower water delivery. Test your system by running it for 5 to 10 minutes. After watering, the soil should be thoroughly wet, with some water draining out through the container’s drainage hole. If water floods out, you have run it too long; if no water comes out and the soil isn’t thoroughly moist, you need to run the system longer or change to more emitters. Most controllers allow you to run the system several times a day, which is particularly useful in our hot climate.

The best bet is to give it a try and adjust the timer and emitters to provide your pots with consistent water. Get this done and enjoy your garden oasis with the newfound time you have gained!

There is much more to be written about irrigation and watering your container gardens. Stay tuned as I write more posts. However, if you have a question now, please email me right away or comment in the section below.

Pots with winter flowers in blues, white and yellow

The end of a great season – with Drip Irrigation for Pots!

 

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Loving Volunteers in Our Garden

We’ve all had them. Plants that sprout up in places we never planted them. It’s not so hard to figure out — grass in the flower patch, dandelions in the lawn, clover in the vegetable garden. Most likely, in these cases, the plants would be called weeds.

Weeds – my definition of a weed is any plant that comes up in a place you don’t want it to grow. I probably learned that from another long-time gardener friend.

So even a popular plant such as an Oak tree that comes up in the middle of the groomed lawn of your front yard could be called a weed.

Now, if you want to grow an Oak tree, once the ‘weed’ has its second set of leaves, you can transplant it to a pot and later to the desired location in your yard. In that case, it is a perfect volunteer plant.

Seeds are spread by the wind, dropped by birds, carried in the compost pile or merely fall from plants last season. These unintended plants either add chores or whimsy to your garden. Even unplanned, a volunteer can add color, food or structure to your garden.

A Pain in the Neck

Large planting of purple Ruellia

Ruellia brittoniana – Mexican Petunias

I prefer focusing on the positive side of life, but I experienced the invasion of a plant I once put into a pot. Ruellia brittoniana ‘Purple Showers’ or Mexican Petunia.

I was drawn by the purple color of the flowers and the three-foot height that gave stature to the pot. Before I knew it, Ruellia plants were coming up all around the pot. We quickly removed them as they were unwanted.

But next season, there were Ruellia everywhere, and the neighboring beds became root bound with the deeply rooted plant. They already had taken hold of the soil and were miserable to deal with.

(Side note: I have recently heard that some new cultivars have been developed that are showing to be far less invasive. Look for Ruellia MayanTM)

The Positive Side of Volunteers

Self-Seeding Annual Flowers

Many volunteers are in the category of self-seeding annuals. These volunteer Alyssum is a familiar example and were a delightful and fragrant surprise one winter in Tucson.

The containers on the wall were full of the little flowers. Watered by irrigation, the runoff would drain onto the ground on the outside of the walled patio. Lit by a western sun, the seeds readily germinated and provided casual passersby a special show.

Volunteers Add Whimsy to your Garden

In this narrow garden of an urban townhome, the owner created a postage stamp garden where she could go out, feed the birds and enjoy nature and the peace it provided while living a hectic city life.

Volunteer flowers have popped up around the pots grabbing for the water provided by the pot irrigation runoff.

This creates a woodland retreat – all that is needed is a comfy chair.

How you look upon volunteer plants is up to you. They can be seen as a treasure or a gift from nature – such as a volunteer watermelon that springs up from the seed of an unharvested fruit of the previous season.

Once I had a volunteer snapdragon sprout in my hanging, succulent wreath. What a surprise! It stayed small due to the limited root space and low light. But there it was!

 

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Ahhh – October in your Potted Desert Garden

Hanging Baskets, Pots and Beds Create a Living Dividerin a Desert Potted Garden

If you have not realized it by now, I love potted desert gardens. They are so versatile in there uses, flexible in their placement and plantings and the bottom line – you don’t have to dig in the ground!!… Marylee Pangman, Potted Desert Expert

Stay on top of your garden tasks to keep your potted desert garden thriving 365 days a year with October’s list!

October's Potted Desert Garden Checklist


Don’t Build Walls – Create outdoor ‘rooms’ with potted desert gardens

Many patios are like bowling alleys. Many yards have no delineated areas. Some homeowners will build ramadas, patios, gazeboes and outdoor kitchens. All of these add to the hardscape of your property and in our desert homes – the HEAT!! 

I came to the realization years ago that you can create magic out of these scenarios with pots.  

The Walkway to a Secluded Side Yard Patio at a Desert Home

In my first Tucson home, we had a long walkway down the side of the house to the backyard. Not wanting to waste any space and shaded by the neighbor’s oleanders, we created sitting areas down this path and separated it with a trellis (made out of concrete reinforcing metal screening) and pots with vines (including a Tombstone Rose, Jasmine, and Tangerine Beauty CrossVine) that grew up the angled trellis.

Large Planters create a barrier at a Tucson restaurant patio

One of my restaurant client’s patio faced a parking lot. We created side by side concrete planters filled with Robelini Palms and Mexican Lime trees, underplanted with cascading flowers and herbs – to be used by the chef. 

Eding a Driveway with more than a railing

Red Geraniums accompanied by grey Dusty Miller and Red Yucca make this an easy care driveway screen

Above is a cool idea of a roundabout driveway that has a drop off if you don’t make the corner! The contractor put up a standard double railing to warn the drivers, but it looked pretty industrial. The planters are 48” wireframe hayracks with coco-fiber liners. Then we welded on decorative braces to assist in the planters’ stability. 

So you see, there are a myriad of ways you can use pots to serve as a function in your home. They allow you to work with a smaller budget and to have tremendous flexibility as we gardeners change our minds – as we tend to do.  🙂

Happy Potting!

Marylee


 Before you go shopping for your winter flowers,

Follow this Link

 

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Designing with a King in Your Potted Garden

This summer I have been showing off the “Silver King” Euonymus, a member of the Boxleaf family and very container-friendly and perfect for your potted garden. If you missed the previous column on the “King”, click here to check it out.

Designing for the “King” with a Court of Odd Fellows 

Too many colors in our potted garden will create havoc or confusion in our weary, heat-laden minds. Let’s return to this month’s theme of the rule of three and limit our choice in color combinations to odd numbers, and in this case the magic 3! 

 The picture above, featuring our plant of the month, the ‘Silver King’ Euonymus was already established in the pot. The silvery white and green glossy leaves stands out in our combination but the green is static in our combination and we will not count it as one of the three colors. With the white, I added strong contrasting colors including purple of Nierembergia ‘Purple Robe’ with the almost black leaf of the Black Pearl Ornamental pepper plant. The white is repeated in white ‘Profusion’ Zinnias as the bookends of the potted garden design.  

You can substitute purple Scaevola or Fan Flower for the Nierembergia. This will hold up better in the desert full sun. You can also use white Vinca for your white. You could also substitute yellow for the white – with either the Profusion Zinnias or Purslane. 

 Shopping for your Potted Garden Plants

As I always recommend, group your plants on a cart at the nursery and step back from them to see if you like them. You will be tempted to buy many other plants and flowers for your potted garden but keep in mind the heat and keep it simple. You can always go back another day! 

 

 

Happy Potting! … Marylee

 

 

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Sultry August in Your Desert Potted Garden

 The ‘OMG’ Month in Your Desert Potted Garden

It’s hot. 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 largest challenges are managing the weather and the needs of your garden.

You have the list here. Right click on it and print it out. Here are a few extra tips.

Hmmm… that’s funny – Tips!

Pot with top-heavy Bougainvillea is a high danger of blowing over.

i.e., Tipping pots

Heavy rains with blustery winds can endanger tall pots with narrow bases. When a storm is coming, be sure to

  • lasso them in
  • tuck them into corners or
  • put other, more solid structures around them.

 

 


Tip #2

Irrigation and Watering Your Pots During the Rains

Do not assume because it rains that 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 we get a 1/4′ which is absolutely not enough for your summer flowers.

  • Soil on the dry side will take longer to absorb enough water to rehydrate itself. So that inch of rain is not going to do enough good to allow you to skip a day.
  • And speaking of skipping a day, if it rains that inch or more today, don’t assume it is good for tomorrow. Thirsty summer flowers usually need water daily so don’t skip. Check the soil. If it remains cloudy, you may not need to water on Day Two.

Don’t assume. Check your plants daily or you may be in for a very sad surprise.

Tip #3

Plant new plants in your desert potted garden only if you find good ones

Sometimes in August, the supply of new flowers is disappointing. If you have some plants in your pots that are looking really sad, pull them out and groom the bare soil spots.

Visit your favorite nursery and look for thriving Pentas, Summer Snaps (Angelonia), or healthy young petunias. If you don’t see something you really like, Wait! Talk to the staff and see when they think some fresh plants will be in. You want things that will be gorgeous throughout the fall.

If you have a copy of my book, check out the section on shoulder season plants. If not, click on the image to order one today!

Happy Monsooning! …. Marylee

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Hot Container Garden – Plant of the Month “Silver King”

“Silver King” can take any role in your summer desert pots 

To best survive the summer furnace in your desert container garden, I harp about the size of our desert garden pots. To support our illustrious hot garden plant of the month, your pot should be at least 24” wide. This width and similar depth will provide the structural support as well as insulation of the soil volume and subsequently, the root system of the plant.

To substantially fill this size pot, especially in the summer, I recommend looking at the Box Leaf family of Euonymus and this month, specifically, the Silver King Euonymus 

Silver Leaf CloseupThe ‘Silver King’ has eye-catching, silvery white edges with glossy green leaves that add uniquecolor and texture to your landscape.   

Variegated forms of the Box Leaf family are the most popular and are among the few shrubs to maintain their variegated leaf color in full sun in our hot summer climates.  The silver tones mix easily with other desert landscape plant materials and add a unique color and texture to your garden. The plant can serve as a stand-alone focal point or be surrounded by almost any contrasting color for instant beauty. With its upright growth habit, several pots can be grouped to form a low screen as demonstrated in this illustration photo with the “Silver King’ supported

 

Note in this illustration, that I also represented three pots of the ‘Silver King’ to demonstrate the screening ability of the plant.  These are underplanted with ‘Pacifica’ Vinca.

The theme for this summer is working your designs in odd numbers

– Hence a combination of three. If you were to pull the three pots apart, you could still maintain the odd number by having a single pot, splitting the pots in a group of two with a separation of the third, or group the three loosely. They do not all have to be planted the same, and probably should not be. We would not want our “King” to get bored with his royal court now, would we? 

Potted with Strawberry Fields Gomphrena, Deep Red Pentas, Red ‘Pacifica’ Vinca, and Orange ‘Profustion’ Zinnia.

Care of the ‘Silver King’ 

Tolerating any region with a dry summer heat is a challenge to all living things, but for your potted desert gardens, the Box Leaf shrubs (Euonymus) are a good bet. The plants will enjoy good potting soil but tolerate less rich soils and moderate watering. Since the shrub is easily pruned, it can serve as an excellent topiary specimen and if it has a solid center trunk, can be shaped up into a small tree over a couple of years.  

When you visit your nursery to select your plant, compare the size of a one-gallon plant versus a five-gallon plant in size. Be sure whichever you choose is well rooted. You should be able to see a few roots through the holes in the can. I suggest since they are not super-fast growers, you select the size that will give you satisfaction now!  

  1. Take the plant home and water it in well (so that water comes out through the holes in the can.) Prepare your pot by placing it its permanent location.  
  2. Fill your pot after covering the drainage hole with screening or a folded coffee filter. Bring the soil level up to about half way and then compress the soil.  
  3. Add a large handful of time-release fertilizer to the soil. Leave a cavity to place the root ball. 
  4. Carefully remove the plant from the can by turning it on its side, compress the can to loosen the root ball and then gently urge the entire plant out from the can being cautious to not tear the stems from the roots. 
  5. Loosen the root ball’s mass by opening it with your hands or a small trowel. You do not need to be overly cautious at this point. 
  6. Place the plant into the pot and add soil, making sure the result will place the top of the plant’s root ball about 2” below the top of the pot. 
  7. Add more soil and continue to pack it in around the root ball. Bring the new soil level up even with the top of the plant’s root ball. Do not bury the root ball under the new soil. Pack the entire mass firmly and water in thoroughly. 
  8. Be sure your newly planted shrub does not dry out. During the first two weeks, you may need to water daily and then, depending on sun exposure, heat levels, and wind, you might be able to drop back to every other day. 

Prune shrubs in spring after flowering (inconsequential) to maintain the desired shape and to remove green shoots that will sometimes pop up in this variegated variety. The proper way is to remove ¼ to 1/3 of the shrub each time it is pruned, forcing new growth to come from old wood deeper inside the canopy of the shrub.  This rejuvenates the shrub, adds more new growth to the canopy and keeps it young and vigorous.  

One of the main issues with this Euonymus is their tendency towards powdery mildew. Although it is less likely in the dry desert, reduce the chance by choosing a morning to mid-afternoon sun location with good air circulation and water the plant in the morning.  

Happy Potting!  …Marylee

 

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Why the Number 3 is Perfect for Desert Container Gardens

 

Does your designer often specify grouping objects in three’s even in your desert container gardens?  

Do you ever ask yourself why?  

It really comes down to our brain. We like to pair things up. When we look at a several items, we rationally try to put them together in two’s. When we create a group of three, the eye is trying to find the pair so it keeps moving. This movement creates a flow and continual motion of our designs. Hence in a garden where our ‘art’ is living and breathing, we want to enhance that movement. Creating an odd number of pots in a group does the trick! 

Two Pots Can Create a formal look at an entry to your home

Pots Have Their Place in your Desert Container Gardens

If we want a more formal or contemporary look, we will want to design in a symmetrical fashion. Even numbers, arranged as pairs will form the structure that comes across more strongly. Two pots placed on opposite sides of a front gate or entry will create the intent that you want of your guest focusing on the entrance rather than passing it by. 

How does the odd number of pots help in our desert landscape design? Long walls and square pots add to the linear look of a back yard wall.

These pots to the left are filled with a single Yellow Daisy Bush (Euryops) and Red Geraniums. The planting is very mature. The Daisy was planted in the fall and the geraniums in the early spring in Oro Valley Arizona. The Geraniums will ‘peter’ out in the heat of the summer and be replaced with true summer annual flowers. ~ Marylee

Two Pots Are out

Where 2 Does Not Cut It

These two pots obviously are just not right against this wall. They stop us dead in our tracks. By adding a third pot—round in shape—and twisting the squares to change the angles, the result is much more appealing. Now you see the garden rather than the wall. 

Your First Step 

When you are ready to redesign an area and want to decide about adding some pots, place some large objects out where you think you might like to position the pots. Trash cans, propane tanks and buckets will serve you well without breaking your back to get an idea of what you like. Once you think you have it, go pot shopping with my mantra –‘ bigger is better!’  If your pots are going to be in full desert summer sun, choose pots that are at least 22” in diameter. These pots are larger than they appear on this long wall. The homeowner is just getting started with a desert container garden and wanted to start small. My Motto is you can always add more!

3 Pots break up the long wall

3 Pots break up the long wall

Same Pots after 3 weeks of growing

Same Pots 3 Weeks Later

 

 

 

 

 

 

The larger pots of this trio have pale yellow Petunias, a dot of red from a Pacifica Vinca and chartreuse Sweet Potato Vine. The shorter pot has red and white Vinca, purple Summer Snaps (Angelonia and Convolvulus (a type of Morning Glory) trailing in the front. This was planted in the late summer when flower choices become more difficult in the desert heat. However, all the plants will do well through the fall until temperatures go below 45. The Sweet Potato Vine will be the first to succumb to the cold. ~ Marylee

 

 

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May Tips for a Successful Potted Garden

Windy City – No Not Chicago

     Tips to safeguard your HOT Potted Garden 

I love watching wind farms! There is something graceful and mesmerizing about them. They are indicative of the strong winds we consistently have in our communities. As weather systems come through bringing high winds, we find those areas of our homes that create a wind tunnel threatening our potted garden.

 

3 Ways to protect your pots from the winds tipping factor.

  1. A pot with a broad base is your best solution to pots blowing over in our high winds. Place vase-shaped containers in protected patio corners or near a protected front door. The pot pictures to the left is not safe in windy areas!
  2. Plant tall plants in well ‘seated’ pots. Pots, as described in #1 above are your best solution to any tree form, tall shrubs or grasses. Thick canopies of these types of plants will act as a sail in strong winds, so they are best suited to ‘grounded pots.”  This pot is 32″ wide with a broad base.
  3. If high winds are in the forecast, water your pots in well. The added water weight will give your pot much more ballast when challenged by windy conditions.

Worry-Free Summer Desert Pot Design – Just add water

Looking for a gorgeous, colorful flower pot for the long summer? Plant a healthy combination of heat-loving plants and enjoy it all summer long.

Here is a grouping that will stand up to a full summer of heat. The 28” pot pictured above shows off with overflowing Vinca in red and white, White Summer Snaps (Angelonia) with a Silver Queen Euonymus shrub planted as a permanent structure in the center of the pot.

If you one side of the pot faces east or north making it a little cooler, you can add a Million Bells (Calibrachoa) that as shown on the bottom right of the picture as a trailing plant. If you know your summers are scorching with weeks of 110+ degrees, they may be best suited to fall seasons or higher elevations.

This combination is simple to care for because it does not need much deadheading. The Vinca blooms will fall off on their own. A little pruning of the Summer Snaps encourages them to grow to their full maturation in monsoon season.

Above is another picture of the same planting from the opposite side giving you a good view of the Summer Snaps and Silver Queen.


Roses – Not to Worry

It’s getting hot, but it can be sweltering if you’re a rose bush.  Although roses grow beautifully in the desert, this heat takes its toll.  Don’t expect your roses to bloom in the middle of the summer and remember to cut the amount of fertilizer in half from June through August.  This practice allows your rose bushes to rest during the heat of the summer.

Here are a few hints to maintain beautiful rose plants over the next few months:

  • Water, water, water!!! Be sure the water gets down to the roots.  If possible, submerge the container in a bucket of water to saturate the soil. Once well-watered return the container to its original location.
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch!!!  Mulching with an organic mulch like straw, compost, chipped bark, western ground cedar, or pine needles helps keep the soil cool and retain moisture.
  • Use the hose on the gentle or mist spray nozzle setting to sprinkle your plants several times a day for added moisture and insect control.
  • Do not prune the leaves.  The leaves help shade the canes and hold moisture. Pack rats have been known to eat the new growth on your bushes, if this is the case, contact a pest control company.  Always remember to deadhead when necessary.
  • You might like to try shade cloth during the worst heat of the day.  The fabric keeps the sun off, the heat down, and the humidity up.

In September return to your regular amount of fertilizer and continue applying these nutrients until November.

Once the monsoon rains begin, your roses will respond to nature’s rain and humidity.


But September is a long ways off. Be mindful of your garden. Enjoy it in the early hours of the morning and again as the sun goes down.

If you missed your Checklist for May, you can get it here.

Thanks for reading! Happy Potting!

Marylee

 

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Five Tips for a Worry-Free Summer in your Desert Pots

We have had a hot start to the southwest U.S. desert this spring. Many of you might be saying, “What spring?” The entire southwest has been running 10 degrees above normal jumping us into an early period of the 90’s. I have heard too many people already complaining about the heat.

However, May is a good time to get your summer pots in good shape before the real saturating heat starts. Here are some tips to guide you along your way. Think about these this month before the intensity keeps you indoors.

It’s not too late you know – to plant your summer pots!

You can still plant summer flowers, shrubs, cactus and succulents this month. If there is an area that remains a blank slate, consider getting right out there with a few new jumbo-sized pots and some well-started summer plants. This one fix will make a major difference in your landscape before the intensity of the summer heat gets started. The most important things to keep in mind if you are going to create a new potted garden this month are:

  • Plant early in the morning.
  • Make sure your plants have healthy root system before purchasing.
  • Be sure your plant’s root balls are moist before planting.
  • Water the pots in fully when you finish with your planting. (except for cactus)
  • Keep a close eye on your pots the first two weeks of growth to make sure they are getting enough water.
  • You do not want your plants to dry out at all as they are getting established.
  • Once you see new growth on the plant, you know they are off to a good start and you can adjust your watering to once daily for most summer annuals.

Provide Shade Relief for Your Summer Pots

Because the desert summer sun is so intense, even your sun-loving plants prefer a little shade. Place pots under a lightly leafed tree such as a Mesquite tree for that dappled light.

Move some of your favorite pots and plantings onto the patio or entry. Relocating them to the shade and close to your living areas will provide them with the conditions they need for summer success. Furthermore, you will more likely keep an eye on them because they are close to where you see them every day.

Watering Summer Pots

As you would expect, the key to success in your hot desert pots is water; consistent, plentiful water. If you water your pots with irrigation, set it to come on about 4:00 am and water before the lines heat up in the sun.

If you are watering by hand, water as close to sunrise that you can. Both you and your pots will love you for it. Be sure the water coming out of the hose is not hot. Water pots until the water comes out of the drain hole.

Different Rules for Potted Succulents and Cacti

Water only when the soil is almost dry. I use a water meter for this to make sure I am not overwatering them. You can pick up a water meter in any of the nurseries or most big box stores.

If you do lose some plants to the heat, don’t leave the dead or dying plants in the pot. All that does is make you feel bad. It also can keep telling you to do more work and replace the plants. My motto has always been, Better Dirt Than Dead.


Like what you are reading? Get it all in your copy of “Getting Potted in the Desert”. Follow the link in the right column or below:

Copies are also available at Antigone Books and Tucson Botanical Gardens.


One more for the road: Rose Worries – Not to Worry!

It’s getting hot, but it can be exceptionally hot if you’re a rose bush.  Although roses grow beautifully in the desert, this heat takes its toll.  Don’t expect your roses to bloom in the middle of the summer, and remember to cut the amount of fertilizer in half from June through August.  This practice allows your rose bushes to rest during the heat of the summer
Here are a few hints to maintain lovely rose plants over the next few months:

  • Water, water, water!!! Be sure the water gets down to the roots.  If possible, submerge the container in a bucket of water to saturate the soil. Once well-watered return the container to its original location.
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch!!!  Mulching with an organic mulch like straw, compost, chipped bark, western ground cedar, or pine needles helps keep the soil cool and retain moisture.
  • Use the hose on the gentle spray nozzle setting to sprinkle your plants several times a day for added moisture and insect control.
  • Do not prune the leaves.  The leaves help shade the canes and hold moisture. Pack rats have been known to eat the new growth on your bushes, if this is the case, contact a pest control company.  Always remember to deadhead when necessary.
  • You might like to try shade cloth during the worst heat of the day.  The cloth keeps the sun off, the heat down, and the humidity up.
  • In September return to your regular amount of fertilizer and continue applying these nutrients until November.
  • Once the monsoon rains begin, your roses will respond to nature’s rain and humidity.

If you missed your Checklist for May, you can get it here.

Thanks for reading! Happy Potting!

Marylee

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Hold Off Planting Summer Flowers in Desert Pots

Do your March Diligence before Planting Summer Flowers


3 Reasons to Hold Off Planting Summer Flowers

1.Frosted Perennials Remind Gardeners to Wait Until April to Plant Summer Flowers

The nights are still too cold to plant summer flowers.  You think just because I live on Kauai I don’t know what’s going on in the dry and hot regions of the country? This week in desert communities, nights are predicted to be in the 40’s plus or minus 5 degrees depending on your elevation. Summer annuals need a strong start to survive – no Thrive all summer long. They need time to grow their root system before the heat begins.

2.Beautiful Pinks Still Grace Three Pots of Winter Plantings

Your winter flower should still be looking lovely and scented annuals are filling the air with their fragrances. I am picturing the fragrance of Allysum with Stock mixed in with Jasmines and Citrus flowers. A good pruning or dead heading will help you get them to satisfy you for another few weeks. Give them a shot of fertilizer too (water soluble) to be sure they are well fed.

3. Rich Blue Pot with Yellow Winter Annuals in Desert Full Sun

The nurseries may have a few early summer flowers tempting your wallet. But they are typically young plants, not always well rooted. You will have a much better selection if you want 4 – 5 more weeks. Also, landscapers will be buying out the first round of plants from local growers and nurseries. Let them have first dibs and wait for the second round as the nights warm up.

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Getting Potted In
The De
sert Book

Marylee Pangman shares her wealth of information gained from 20 + years creating successful Potted Gardens in the Desert