Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Potted Desert Garden

04 Oct 2016
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Regal Mist Pink Muhly—or Muhlenbergia capillaris—is probably my favorite landscape grass in this part of the country. I love the way the sun shines through its plumes during its flowering season. That hazy but eye-catching frothy mist of deep pink is what first caught my eye when I saw a mass planting in a landscape. All I could say was, “Amazing!” So grab your gloves and tools, because now that cooler weather is here, it’s a good time to plant this stunning grass. The grass stays relatively small and is drought-tolerant, but thrives with regular watering. Its bloom period is during the fall months, and it boasts glossy green leaves the rest of the year—until you cut it back annually to the ground in January. As a clumping grass, it only grows in size and does not propagate new plants. It also is not prone to reseeding, so you can…
06 Sep 2016
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Trust me: These hot days are getting shorter. The summer equinox was way back on June 20; that is when the sun started its journey north. As we think of the sun’s journey, it’s time to start thinking about how the sun affects our potted desert gardens. We know that our climate changes from long summer days, with daytime temperatures of 115-plus, to long winter nights, where temps regularly dip down to 30-45 degrees. In some areas, temps may drop even lower. The sun is shifting from its northern angle in the summer, and moving more southerly now. Plants that were getting a lot of sun over the summer, if kept in the same location, may have much less sun. Some plantings on the more northern side of the house will eventually be in complete shade. Note where your winter sun is so that your plants that do well in…
02 Aug 2016
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As I mentioned last month, gardeners are typically rule-breakers. We bend the rules and seek out plants that we are told will definitely not make it in the desert. We try to grow our favorites, climate be damned, saying as we stomp our foot: “Yes I can!” Unfortunately, it’s proven a lot more difficult for potted desert gardeners to successfully break the rules this year. I have heard from a lot of desert gardeners recently who are trying to grow plumeria. While some fortunate souls may luck out, the recent high heat in the Southwest U.S. has been killing off these plants rapidly. I cannot believe how many people I’ve heard from in the Coachella Valley complaining about the plants they are losing this year. Tropical plants just cannot live in our summer heat unless they are placed in an area that can be temperature-controlled. Of course, as I also…
05 Jul 2016
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Gardeners are typically rule-breakers. We don’t always follow instructions; we try the untried; we seek out plants that we are told will not make it in the desert. Desert transplants and snowbirds often yearn for the gardens we had “back home,” leading us to try to replicate our favorites. This has led to many dead tulips and fuchsia plants. I am sure some of you are reading and saying, “I have them in my Palm Springs garden!” If so, you are an exceptional gardener, likely with the perfect location and conditions for these plants that love water, humidity and non-scorching temperatures. There are constant gray areas within the rules of gardening in the desert. For example: I teach beginning gardeners to place plants with the same light, sun and water requirements together in the same pot. Ornamentals, succulents and drought-tolerant plants all have their place in our gardens … happily…
07 Jun 2016
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There are different ways to look at the arrival of summer in the Coachella Valley. While many people complain about the heat and the hefty power bills, summer also brings a lot of good. Our winter visitors have left, which means we can get into popular restaurants at a reasonable time, possibly without a reservation—and we can get some great deals, too! Traffic is certainly less troublesome. In your garden, summer offers opportunities, despite the heat. Of course, we can simply rely on the strongest desert and arid plants, which require little water and minimal work, such as cacti and succulents, bougainvillea, trees and shrubs. But that’s kind of boring, isn’t it? The largest pots in our yards offer us another opportunity: You can choose to do some minimal but productive gardening in pots that are 24 inches or larger (in width and height), as they will retain enough water…

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