Tag Archives: hot garden

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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Save Money with these 6 Tips for your Container Gardening Shopping

Do you have a plan before you go flower shopping for your pots?

Marylee choosing flowers for her container gardens

  1. Know your pots. (Sizes, color and sun/shade)
  2. Know your desired color scheme
  3. Grab a cart at the nursery and an empty flat or carton.
  4. Place your selections on the flat and then step back and look at it.
  5. Stare at it hard and long and be sure it sits right with you.
  6. If something seems just not right, take out one plant. Look at color combinations, textures, and heights. Often you have too many small flowered plants with small leaves and that can complicate the arrangement.

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.


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3 Conditions Where Hand Watering Your Hot Container Garden is the Right Choice

You decide to do a couple pots. You know we need the soil and pots and plants. As our excitement about our project escalates, do we think about how to water them once they are in place?
In many climates, water is not often an issue. In cities like Seattle where there are 340 days of rain, potted gardens only need occasional supplemental water. However, as our climates continue to change with more and more areas experiencing drought conditions, we do need to consider how we are going to get the water to our containers.
You might be thinking to just use a watering can or a hose or possibly your existing or new irrigation system. Now I am not going to get into irrigating your pots in this post. That is a much larger subject than I am willing to tackle today. But I will leave you with the knowledge that 90% of the time when using irrigation, you need a dedicated valve and line to water pots correctly.
You might also have recently seen olla’s or glass balls that distribute water as the soil dries. I don’t have much personal experience with these. Having lived in the middle desert for 20 years I am somewhat leery of possible solutions where I cannot be sure that the water or moisture will be distributed throughout the full body of soil. I understand that this method is based on old ways of ‘the early days’ of gardening for food.
Let’s move back to the original topic of when it is best to hand water.
Potted Desert Potted SucculentsCacti and Succulents
When you are potting up cactus and other succulents, hand watering is definitely the way to go. The frequency of water needed depends on the specific plant, the size of the pot and the amount of sun it receives every day. A basic guide is to water cacti and succulents monthly during the cooler seasons and bi-weekly in hot months. It is best to err on too little water, not over-watering.
Fountain Grass
Ornamental Plants
For ornamental shrubs, trees, vegetables, herbs and flowers, I recommend hose watering rather than using a bucket or watering can. A hose with a good nozzle can provide a rain shower that is not only gentle in its application but thorough in distributing water to the entire soil bed.
 
Hand watering recommended for Container Gardens
Preventative Care
A hose nozzle also provides a jet spray which will improve plant health when used daily during hot spells to aerate the plant and send off any pests that are lurking in the cool shade of the leaves. The mist setting on the nozzle will provide cooling respite for hot afternoons when the soil itself has not dried out enough to need to water.
Watch for next Friday’s blog where I will talk about placing your pots to make watering easier.

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July in your Hot, Dry Container Garden

Think Positively – You Can Grow Beautiful Pots even in the hot summer

Summer Potted Desert Flowers

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To Do In Your Pots This Month

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)Healthy rose blooms (2)

Water, water, water: 

  • As temperatures remain above 100 degrees, water potted roses daily.
  • New potted roses may need water twice a day
  • NEW RECOMMENDATION: Water late in the afternoon after 6 p.m. during this time of year which allows for less evaporation
  • Place potted roses in an area that gets afternoon shade

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.

 

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Getting Potted In
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sert Book

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