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

July 8, 2016

Keeping your plants alive and well in Phoenix in the summertime

It gets hot in Phoenix in the summertime. And it's a terrible thing for plants because it's most often low humidity and hot. People may appreciate the comfort of a "dry heat", but it's terrible for plants.

Now, I'm not talking about during our thunderstorm season, which the plants appreciate. I'm talking about days that are 100 degrees with low humidity. That's very bad for plants, but luckily there is a solution - give them water.

I'm not talking about dragging a hose out a couple of times a week. That's bad for your plants and it's pretty darned uncomfortable for you, the human being. If you've made the mistake of trying to keep plants alive in the summer by using the hose you will not only be wasting water, but you will be stressing your plants terribly and probably killing them. The solution is an automated watering system.

Here at the Tropical Paradise, I use a low-pressure drip system. It's simply plastic tubing with small tubing connected to tiny risers that spray water. The water is delivered very precisely to where the plants need it. There is no overspray and no wasted water. I can see where the water is delivered (look at the photo) at the base of the plants. The water doesn't spray all over the wall, or on sidewalks, or go running down the street. The plants use it, and stay strong and healthy even during the hottest and driest months of the year.

It all runs on an inexpensive battery-powered timer. In the summer I set it to come on every day for twenty minutes. In the winter the water doesn't come on at all, and in between I refine it based on the temperatures of the days.

Now waitaminute, it's not a thing that you install and forget about. I've seen a LOT of those. People install an elaborate system, forget about it, it works for a season or two, and then fails. Yes, it's an automatic system, but I always go check to see if everything is working OK. If there's a leak, or I need to change the batteries on the timer, I do it. If my dog's tail nudges the angle of a watering head, I go adjust it. Tiny stuff, fussy stuff, like deadheading flowers, and t's part of what I enjoy in my garden. I do it at my leisure, drinking my coffee, in the cool morning, or in the evening. I don't lug out heavy hoses in 115 degree heat!

So, if your plants are all dead, try again. But before you plant, install the watering system. With it, your plants with thrive, without it they won't, nor will you.
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