Connecting Greater Phoenix gardeners with information that helps put xeriscape principles into action.

Gardening Tip: Mix It Up with Container Plants

Mix it up with container plantsContainer plants are great if you have a small space to work with.  They’re also great if you have a large desert landscape and you just want to create different looks.

I moved these guys from an east-facing patio location onto the sunny path going toward our pool.  We don’t use the pool in the winter, for obvious reasons, and the plants can take a full hit of our Phoenix sun.

The two end containers have Trailing Lantana, the center front is Blue Glow Agave, and the back center is Kale with some Rock Verbena.  When these babies are all blooming at the same time, they’re hard to miss!

I also like spray paint.  If I want to change up the color of a pot, I lightly sand it and spray it.  I have a HUGE formerly white pot on our south-facing front that I sprayed a metallic copper.  Then I  planted some Salvia in it.  When it gets to be scorching hot here in Phoenix, I’ll move it under the patio to protect it from the all day sun.

So containers are incredibly versatile.  You can fill up a small desert garden with them, move them around, paint them, and re-plant them.  And they’re a great way to start gardening…in small steps!


Growing Up: How to Fertilize Potted Plants

Keep Potted Plants FertilizedUsing native plants in your Phoenix landscape means that you can almost always go without fertilizer.  If the plant already grows in our desert soil, there’s nothing to amend.

But potted plants are a different story.  Plants in containers don’t get the nutrients that are readily available in the soil, so you must fertilize.  How much and how often depends on the plant and the type of fertilizer you use.

I happen to like Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food because it’s easy to use.  Just add a scoopful to your watering can, fill with water, and fertilize away.  This works for most plants.  But if you’re fertilizing cacti or agaves, use about 1/3 of a scoop…or look for specific cacti/agave fertilizers.

HOT TIP! Miracle-Gro has a really handy garden sprayer that attaches to your hose if you’ve got lots of potted plants to fertilize.

Water-soluble fertilizers don’t last as long as fertilizer crystals or pellets, so you should fertilize about once a month (or more during the growing season).

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!  Are you putting that plant in your mouth?  What I mean is…is it an herb, fruit, or vegetable?  If so, you’ll want to stay away from chemical fertilizers and stick to an organic one.  For safety’s sake…


Contain Yourself: Potted Plants for the Desert

Using Container Plants to Add InterestIt’s still beastly hot here in Phoenix, but now’s the time to start thinking about creating (or refreshing) container plants for fall.

I like using containers because they’re flexible.  Change them out as the seasons change…or as your mood changes.  Try out new plants or groupings…or make a long-term commitment to a spectacular specimen.

Mix the colors and textures of your plants and containers to create the perfect arrangement for potted plants. 

I happen to love Talavera pots.  Because they’re already colorful, I tend to stick to simple plants:  red verbena, foxtail fern, mixed greens.  With one-color containers, you can be a bit more adventurous.  Create a mini herb garden that’s close to the door so you can easily snip as you cook, group multiple plants together, or show off a stunning cactus or agave. 

This mass of bright gold marigolds contrasts nicely with the true blue pot–and the subtle purple of the lavendar behind it–for eye-popping color that’s hard to miss. 

Hot Pots Container Gardening in the Arid Southwest

HOT TIP!  Check out Hot Pots: Container Gardening in the Arid Southwest to help you select materials, put a design together, and care for potted plants in your desert landscape!