This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

November 14, 2017

Maintenance of the misting system, filter, gaskets

One of the secrets to the success of the Tropical Paradise here in Glendale (a suburb of Phoenix) is the misting system. It's an ordinary misting system, like the kind you see along the edge of patios, that sprays a mist of water, except that I have it on the ground, for the plants. And the plants love it!

The challenge to something like this is regular inspection and maintenance. I walk the line regularly and replace clogged misting heads (which happens all of the time) and then every year I replace the filter. Well, it looks like it's been a couple of years, because what I did today shows me that the heat of the sun had practically cooked all of the gaskets.

When I took it apart, the gaskets were terrible. In fact, on the connector (that green thing) they had pretty much become part of it. So I got a new connector and bunch of new gaskets. In addition to using fresh gaskets, I used plumber's tape (you can see a little bit of white sticking out) because I don't like leaks.

I really should do this every year at this time, when the temperatures start to cool down. This area only gets morning sun, but even morning sun is brutal in Phoenix in the summer. Luckily, there' a Home Depot just a few blocks from me, it's a beautiful day, and I pedaled over there and got what I needed.

Even though it's cooler, it still getting up into the high eighties here, so I won't be turning off the misting system, and watering system, for another month at least. In the meantime I'll keep an eye on it. It's automatic, but you can't "set it and forget it".

November 12, 2017

What to do if your petunia looks terrible

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, plants will start to look unhappy in your garden. An example is a petunia plant that I bought just a few days ago, planted with care, looked after, and it looks terrible this morning.

Your first question might be "What did I do wrong?" and unfortunately even if you did everything right, sometimes a plant is unhappy in its new location. In this instance even the small amount of morning sun that it got was enough to stress it. But don't panic, and don't make it worse. It's time for some tender loving care.

First of all, you can give it some more water. But be careful that you don't drown the plant, at this point that could happen - the roots could rot and too much water could kill it. But do water it every day, and maybe twice a day. The best thing you can do is to get a spray water bottle and spritz it as much as you want. The reason that this plant is looking so terrible is that it can't quite get enough water up through its system, so spraying water on it a few times a day is the best thing for it.

And resist the temptation to trim it! Trimming a stress plant like this just increases its stress. Yeah, it looks terrible, and you might be tempted to trim it, especially where you see the really ragged areas, but don't do that. This is no time for additional stress on the plant. If it's completely dead, go ahead and pull it up and throw it away, but if you want to nurse it through this time, it's gonna take some patience.

If the plant is still trying to stand it, it can survive. If it's lying flat on the ground, and the stalks and leaves are all shriveled, it's a goner. If it has some signs of life, hang on.