The Potted Desert Edible Garden
1. Get in another planting of all your cool season veggies, if you have room. Go ahead and transplant some more greens for an early spring salad. (Spinach, all lettuces, mesclun, swiss chard, kale)
2. Get your garden ready for the warm season planting. But, be ready to cover if it freezes again.
1. Deadhead your flowers weekly. Be sure to pinch them back to the originating stem, not just the flower. This will support continuous bloom.
2. Cut back ornamental grasses to just above ground level in February.
3. Fertilize your potted plants every two weeks with a water soluble fertilizer. Best applied with a hose applicator.
4. Plant color annuals such as pansies, petunias, larkspur, primrose, poppy, stock, violas, alyssum, snapdragon and marigolds (warmer areas only.)
5. Watch shallow-rooted newly planted annuals, which can quickly dry out with spring winds.
6. Adjust watering schedule according to winter rains.
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Fertilize your citrus around Valentine’s Day Special Attention Needed in February
1. Water both the day before and immediately after applying granular fertilizers.
2. Use a granular fertilizer according to the directions on the package. Size and age of the trees determine how much fertilizer you use.
3. Fertilize mature trees away the trunk, meaning the outer two thirds of the ground of the leaf canopy where the most active roots are.
4. Give the trees a deep soaking watering after applying the fertilizer.
5. Newly planted trees do not need fertilizer the first 1-2 years after planting).
6. Note: Whether you use Ammonium Sulfate, Ammonium Phosphate or Citrus Food fertilizer it's important to read instructions because the amount of fertilizer need per year will vary depending on the age, size, and type of citrus tree. For example, a medium-sized adult tree 5-6 years after planting needs 6.2 pounds of Ammonium Sulfate per year (split into three applications). Grapefruit trees 5 or more years after planting need half the amount for other citrus.
7. Continue to pick your citrus. You do not need to harvest all of the fruit just because the trees come into flower. Grapefruit and Valencia oranges will continue to sweeten while left on the trees.
(Source: Pima County Master Gardener Program)
Pruning Use bypass pruners that work similar to scissors. Anvil-type pruners will crush your rose stems.
1. Plan your tropical garden near your home, part of your seating area. Since the majority of the plants require heavily filtered light, you can make the garden be part of your outdoor living area as you appreciate similar conditions.
2. Plan the flooring to be as cool as possible. Non-reflective colors in earthtone or blue hues work well. You might add an outdoor carpet to the seating area.
3. Think in levels or layers of plantings as you would see in a tropical garden. Low plantings around the seating areas in low pots will do well. Also bordering walkways. Then mid-height plants in taller pots or pots up on pedestals or pots with trellises for some vines.
4. Further back towards walls or further from the patio, you can think about larger plants and trees, still trying to keep the layered effect of the three heights of plants in the landscape. Perhaps a couple citrus or palm trees or an evergreen Pistache tree with a mixture of hibiscus and a blue leafed agave such as the Agave colorata. And definitely keep in mind your Bougainvillea and Birds of Paradise- both tropical (shade) and Mexican (sun)!!
The south side of my home is shaded by my neighbors towering oleanders. This is really the walkway to the back yard but I was able to transition the 8 foot wide side yard into a mini oasis which tends to be about 10 degrees cooler than other areas of my landscape. One side gets mostly shade all day long and the side along the house gets heavy sun making it the more challenging area. This area is therefore also protected from some of our lighter freezes.
Many plants that we have come to know as ‘house plants” are actually tropical plants that cannot survive the cold temperatures that most of the United States experiences. We are familiar with names like Pothos, Dracaena, Philodendrum and other common house plants. In full shade and with cold protection when the temperatures go below 40, these are tropical wonders for our patio oasis. However, once temps plummet below freezing, you will want to take the plants inside your home or Arizona room.
Plants that will tolerate more sun (but still will want afternoon shade most of the year are the Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus, Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta), Day Lilies offer clumps of arching sword-like leaves and can be evergreen, semi evergreen or deciduous depending on the species, Agapanthus, Butterfly Iris, Cordyline and Coleus.
What is your gardening resolution for 2014?
Mine is to continue to supply you with container gardening tips that will help you grow successful desert potted gardens all year long!
Have a safe and happy New Year! See you in 2014!
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