I always tell people that gardens succeed when they have a mindful caretaker. Our potted plants will do what we want them to do, as long as we provide them with a little help.
If you have the watering down (see the columns from the last couple of weeks), here are other things you can do to keep your flowers blooming in spite of the heat!
• Deadhead flowers regularly, removing spent flowers all the way down the stem.
• Use a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks to help the plants bloom all summer long. I prefer a hose-attached applicator, as it speeds up the process, and you can foliar-feed as well as soil-feed. Follow the rules of deep watering when you fertilize in order to distribute the food throughout the soil base of the pot.
• Use the jet setting on your hose nozzle to blast water onto all plant surfaces. It’s a great way to prevent and treat pest and disease. Do it in the morning so the plants have plenty of time to dry.
• If any of your plants are really struggling, try to get them some afternoon shade, or move them out of the wind (which, as well all know, can be an issue here in the Coachella Valley). Pots in the sun and the wind will dry out. If you have no other option, you can also cover your plants with shade cloth; just make sure you fasten it down so it does not blow away. It’s not the prettiest solution, but it will help protect favorite flowers on the hottest days.
Marylee is the Desert’s Potted Garden Expert. Email her with comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.