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

April 26, 2013

Terraced gardening to combine cycads with flowers

One of the secrets to the success of The Tropical Paradise is that the cycads are planted on a slope. I wish I could take credit for this, but it was purely by accident. The entire yard originally was covered with gravel (yikes!) when I moved in, which I found that I couldn't even give away, so I just took a shovel and moved it all up the sides of the yard. This created a wonderful place for cycads, who like to see water, but don't like to stand with their "feet wet" as it will rot the roots.

Recently I discovered that I had a few flat areas along the slope that were getting wet, and staying that way. Bad for cycads, good for flowers. So my latest experiment is doing some terrace gardening to combine cycads with flowers.

The flowers that I am using are iris and amaryllis. The iris are the the ones with the pointy leaves, the amaryllis are the ones with the strap-like leaves. There are a few other plants scattered around, but these are the ones that I can count on.

This is how I am doing it: I find an area on the slope, flatten it out and fill with potting soil. I'm adding some moisture crystals and slow-released plant food, too. Iris should be planted shallowly, and cut down into a fan shape (you can see them spotted around, recently planted). They like water, a lot of it, and will get it in their little terraced spots. You don't have to worry about over-watering iris, they are practically aquatic plants!

I have the automatic watering system now set to come on every two days for twenty minutes, and I am doing a little bit of hand watering in the little terraces for a couple of days. Once the plants have taken root, they will be fine, especially the iris, which is a very vigorous grower. In fact, I will need to keep an eye on the iris, as if likes to spread and multiply, and will want to take over the whole yard!
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