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



June 4, 2013

The tropical desert garden in summer

It's the first week of June here in the Phoenix, Arizona area and it is really heating up. A lot. This is the time of year in this type of climate when people throw up their hands and give up on their tropical paradise. And that's a shame. This is when a cool oasis looks the best.

For a cycad collector like me (the cycads are the palm-like plants), it's the best time of year as it's the time that they grow. It only happens once a year for cycads (unlike palm trees) so it's kind of fun to watch. The leaves start pushing out in what is called a "flush" of leaves. In this photo you can see some flushing dioons, the big ones are spinulosums, the little ones just starting from the stumps that I transplanted earlier this year are edules.

There are some serious considerations for the desert garden in the summer. First of all, this isn't Minnesota. "Summer annuals" like petunias, etc., will die in the summer. Those are to be planted in the winter. If you see plants that are suffering from some sunburn, trim off a leaf or two. I wander out every morning and carry my clippers. Plant people have a lot of nervous energy, you know! And be sure that your automatic watering system is working properly. I work from home so it's easy for me to keep an eye on it. If you don't, set the timer to come on when you are home, either early morning or evening, so you can see that it is working properly. And if you are trying to grow a garden like this by watering with a hose, you have made a mistake. It can't be done.

Yes, it will get to 100 degrees today. But having the cool look of tropical plants makes it just a little bit easier to bear.
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