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

March 14, 2013

Watering The Tropical Paradise

The water for the plants in The Tropical Paradise is delivered through a low-pressure drip line system. That's the one on the right, with the black tubing. The timer is an inexpensive battery-powered timer from Home Depot. I have tried many different types and prefer these simple ones. There is no reason to have a complex computer-style timer! If it comes with an instruction manual, don't buy it.

The water pressure is stepped down to 15 psi and the water goes through a filter cartridge, which is cleaned every year (or at least it should be!). The trunk line runs all the way around the outer perimeter of the garden and the individual plants are watered with 1/4 "spaghetti tubing" with sprayer heads. As you can see, I am generous with the plumber's tape as this system is always under pressure, and you don't want drips. And even if you do it right, it's a good idea to go out there and check it every once in a while. I had the hose bib replaced a few years ago professionally and the hose splitter is solid brass, the best I could find. You do not want cheap plastic back there!

The other system (on the left) is an ordinary misting system, like the kind that drips on you at outdoor patios at restaurants. It runs parallel to the watering system, and the mist provides more humidity, and a bit more water for the plants, especially the small ones. The misting heads are mounted on risers so they don't get buried in the dirt. The misters come on daily, at 4 PM, and run for twenty minutes. It's actually kind of cool to see. I will increase the frequency in the summer so that it comes on multiple times a day. Of course, in the winter, it's off.

The watering system is set to once a week now, and I will increase it all the way up to daily in the hottest parts of summer. In winter, from December to February, it's completely off. I've used this system for over twenty years and have never been tempted to have a complex "professionally installed" system put in. Most of the time when I have visited people have a system that was installed professionally, it was as complex to use as sending a rocket to the moon, and had long since been abandoned.

Of course, there is no grass here, so there is no system for that. If you have grass, replace it with artificial turf, forget about it, and focus on growing a beautiful tropical paradise. It won't take nearly as much water, but you do have to set it up correctly and maintain it.

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