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

October 12, 2014

Keeping an eye on your plants in pots

Like most people in suburban houses, I don't use my front door much. I enter and exit through the garage. And because of that, my courtyard gets neglected, because, well, out of sight, out of mind. But I've been trying to get better this past year, as I've got several plants in pots there. But even with the best of intentions, my courtyard doesn't get the care that the backyard gets, so it really has to have tougher plants, that do better with neglect. I've tried a lot of things, and failed mostly, so this is what I've learned:

• Plant in really BIG pots. For scale, my dog's legs are nearly two inches long, so you can get a feel for how big these pots are. I got two that are ceramic, and the one that you can just barely see back there is plastic, although it's the same color. And they're filled with a lot of potting soil. I've tried using smaller pots, but they dry out way too quickly.

• Put pots in the shade. Putting them out in full sun here in the Phoenix, Arizona area is a bad idea. It gets really hot in the sun, and that's bad for the roots of plants. Shade makes a big difference. These pots are under the shade of an olive tree, and get nice dappled light.

• Put tough plants in pots. Even though this area has shade, and all of that nice potting soil in the pots, it's still a harsh environment for plants. I have mostly agaves planted in the pots. In the winter, you can put in flowers, but only when the weather is pretty cool. Plants dry out fast in the desert!

I am going to try to remember to go out and inspect the courtyard more regularly. I'm trying to convert it from a *backwater* to a more inviting area, even if most of the time the only people who see are the UPS drivers.
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