Growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area. With a wiener dog.

December 27, 2018

Covering your plants in cold weather in Phoenix

It's December, and it's the time of the year when people remind you to cover your plants in Phoenix. And if you're wondering what to do, relax, it's easy. And chances are you don't have to cover any plants at all in your garden, only the tender tropicals.

A plant that I have here at the Tropical Paradise that's cold-sensitive is my natal plum. It will only get into the thirties tonight, and that isn't fatal to the plant, but it can discolor the leaves. So I'll be covering it when the sun goes down.

So no, you don't cover your plants while the sun is shining. In fact, that's very bad for them, so if the sun is still shining and you've covered them, go out and uncover them. I'll wait.

There you go, just leave the frost cloth, or old bed sheets, or a beach towel, nearby and when the sun goes down cover the plant.  That's really all you have to do. And when the sun comes up in the morning, uncover it.

Speaking for myself, I just kinda watch to see if the overnight temperatures will get below 40. You don't need to cover plants in the high thirties, but if the temperature gets close to 32, it's wise. If it gets below freezing, definitely. And if you're wonder how cold it can get here in the desert, I've seen it get down to 17 here. And tender tropicals, like natal plum, can be killed if exposed to that kind of cold. So throw something on them at night, and when you get up in the morning, uncover them. They'll be fine.

December 26, 2018

How to plant an ivy geranium

I got an ivy geranium from a friend of mine for Christmas. And today I'll planting it, but not in the ground!

If you're familiar with geraniums, you may be surprised at how different an ivy geranium is. First of all, the leaves are very glossy, and most importantly, it trails, like a vine. So it's best to plant it in a pot that will allow it to show off what it does, which is hang down.

I just planted this one, and as it grows it will cover the pot, and trail down. I will "fuss" with it to keep it looking its best, which just means a gentle trim here, a pinch there. It will live on my patio so it isn't as if I have to really go out of my way to look after it.

Ivy geranium.

I removed a kind of sad-looking plant that had been in this pot, set it aside, and scooped out enough soil to accommodate the geranium. Before I dropped the plant in, I added some dry slow-release fertilizer, and some polymer moisture crystals. They aren't absolutely necessary, I like every little advantage that I can find. Then I firmed it all in thoroughly, moved the pot over to the grass, and watered it in thoroughly. I will keep adding water for a few hours, letting it drain, and then I'll move it back over to the patio, and back on the drainage tray.

It doesn't have any flowers yet, but they will be red. And as much as I like blooms, like anyone else does, I'm mostly fascinated with foliage, and the foliage on this plant is much nicer than a common geranium. My whole garden, by the way, is mostly a foliage garden, with the flowers being just a nice touch here and there. Flowers come and go, but you're always looking at foliage, and I want to look at something nice.

So there you go, get an ivy geranium (they can be difficult to find), plant it in a pot, and put it in a sunny area. It will grow, and bloom, all winter!