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

December 19, 2013

The coldest part of your garden in winter

The coldest part of your garden in winter is along a south wall. That is, a northern exposure. The reason for this is that the sun is at its lowest in the winter and the wall creates a barrier to sunlight. The lesson that I've learned here is to not plant cold-tender plants along a south wall.

As you can see in the photo, which was taken at about 9:30 am, the southeast area of the wall is the darkest, and the coldest. As the sun comes up, it warms up the eastern exposure of the house, where I do have some tender tropicals, but the southern wall never warms up.

I've planted a lot of things along that wall over the years, but mostly all that's left is that pile of rocks behind that agave, up against the wall. I am successfully growing a Mediterranean palm (you can just see a bit of it) and some fountain grass, but even they look a little sad in the cold weather. And the palm is leaning out for sun, understandably.

The bottom line is that a northern exposure, even here in the Phoenix area, where it's normally warm, is a death zone for plants. Plants need light, and some warmth. Along a southern wall, in the winter, there is virtually none. In January, it will be even colder and darker there.

I'll keep experimenting, but it's just not a good place for plants.
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