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

August 26, 2013

Beginning a winter flower pot display by the front door

This year I will be doing a winter flower display in a pot by my front door. It's the last week of August, and if you're from back east you may be wondering "why now?" It's because annual planting time here in the desert is in September.

So to prepare the home for the flowers, I have set some rocks down at the bottom of a plastic pot. Yeah, ceramic would be more elegant, but it also transmits a lot more heat to the soil, which cooks the roots and dries out the pot faster. It's still gonna be pretty hot in this corner!

And I do want to use this corner, for while it's "the fires of hell" in the summer, it's very sunny and warm in the winter, which is what blooming plants need. And the best blooming plant for this is the petunia.

The worst thing you could possibly do would be to go to your local nursery and buy a big already-potted display of flowers. If you do that, all that you will be doing will be watching it slowly die. It might look good for a month or so. But I'm looking to have a flower show from September through April.

Iris in the middle, petunias all around
So here is the plan: I will fill up the pot with a lot of potting soil, and I will mix in some slow-release dry plant food (I like Osmocote) and some water crystals. Then I will slowly add water to make sure that the mix is thoroughly wet. If you just dump in a plant in dry potting soil and throw some water on it, the water will just drain to the bottom of the pot, and mostly just spill out. Don't do that.

Soil preparation is the key not only for plants in the ground but plants in a pot. Most of the work of this will be getting the home ready for the new plants. Planting them will take just a few seconds. And I will plant a six-pack of tiny flowers. The investment in plants will be a couple of bucks. And if a few of the little plants die, that's OK. Petunias are vigorous growers and they will fill the pot quickly.

Update August 29th. I bought two six-packs of petunias at Summer Winds nursery yesterday (Bell Road and 65th Avenue in Glendale). They're actually the first ones in town to get them in (Home Depot didn't have any). I got white and burgundy to mix them up. I also planted an iris in the middle. It doesn't look like much now, but everything will grow and will fill up that pot. Yes, you water it every day until the weather cools down. Here that will be late October.

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