Growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area. With a wiener dog.

September 12, 2014

When, and how, to plant annual flowers in the Phoenix, Arizona area

It's mid-September and now is the time to start planting annuals flowers, such as the Vinca that I am planting this morning. You can plant annual flowers in the Phoenix, Arizona area (and by that I include all of the way to Tucson, to Las Vegas, and to Palm Springs) through the winter. If you come from back east, like I do, it seems kind'a strange, but there is a reason.

The best weather here will start in October and last through April. That's what I call *Chamber of Commerce weather*. Back in Minneapolis, where I grew up, it would be in the springtime. Here the springtime weather is in fall, and winter. So, if you visit Phoenix to play golf in December, you will see a riot of color from annual flowers that were planted in September, and October.

Right now it's still hot enough that I just felt my air-conditioning come on at 10 am. So, if you want to drag your feet a bit, you can wait until October. But I like to start annuals as early as possible, in mid-September, and just keep an eye on them, and use a few tricks.

The worst mistake I've made in planting annuals is to be in a hurry to get them in the ground after I've purchased them. I bought two six-packs at Lowe's yesterday, and of course I'm anxious to get them all in the ground. But slow down! These tiny plants deserve the same attention that you give to all of the plants in the garden, maybe even a little more.

Here is what I've found works best:

• Prepare a planting bed. Don't just try to stick these little plants into the native soil. You might as well just take them over to the dumpster right now if that's what you're gonna do. They're babies, and they need special care. I plant all of my plants in potting soil. I like to say that my plants aren't planted in Arizona, they're planted in holes dug in Arizona, filled with potting soil. And before I put the plant in, I had some dry fertilizer (I like Osmocote) and sprinkle a tiny bit of moisture crystals.

• Hand water generously. I have a plastic one-gallon watering can that I keep under the kitchen sink. I fill it with two small scoops of Miracle-Gro and hand water the annuals, which I keep along the edge of the planting area. The watering can has a rose on it, to keep the watering gentle.

And there you go. The old saying of digging a *hundred dollar hole for a fifty dollar tree* still applies, even if you've only spent $2.19. So, I'm going to pour myself another cup of coffee, and take my time.

By the way, annuals really do only live for one season. When the heat returns, they will die, and there is nothing to be done but to pull them up, and throw them away. I didn't use to plant annuals here at The Tropical Paradise, thinking that it was too much trouble for something that was only temporary. But annuals do an amazing amount of living in the short time that they have here on earth, a lesson that I am trying to learn!

Oh, and guys, if you're wondering what flowers to plant, have your girlfriend pick them out. Don't argue, just say, *yes dear*. Women know!
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