I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: You should “blast” your flowers and potted plants with a jet spray of water on a regular basis.
Many people in my potted-gardening classes have looked at me funny when I tell them to do this. Why do I push this activity so much?
Well, a jet spray applied to the structure of your potted plants, flowers, roses and even cactus will do several things: It will blow off pests. It aerates the plants, proactively deterring pests and disease. A healthy plant is more resistant to disease, such as powdery mildew, and pests, such as spider mites and aphids.
Once newly planted gardens are well-rooted and show signs of new growth, it is safe to begin the jet-blast spraying. New buds and blossoms will not break off unless they are not well-tethered to their stem. Also, you do not need to worry about wetting the leaves in the sun. Recent research shows that the water droplets do not stay long enough on the plant to create a magnification of the sun on the leaves.
Here are the steps to take:
• Before applying water to the plants, be sure the water coming out of your hose is cool. In order to not waste this first, over-warm water, spray it into a bucket, and let it cool off before using; spray it into your pool; or set the nozzle on the shower setting, and spray it through the air, allowing the cooled water to gently fall on a vegetated area.
• Jet-spray your plants in the early morning hours.
• Do this daily in the summer, and every few days in the winter. I suggest only spraying off cactus once a month.
• Set your hose nozzle to the jet-spray setting.
• Stand back three to four feet from the plants.
• Spray across the structure of the plants—NOT into the soil—and move the hose around so you are hitting the plant from all sides. Each pot will only need about 10 to 15 seconds of spraying.
• When you are done, be sure to turn off the hose at the spigot and run the final water out of the hose by opening up the nozzle for a last spray.
You will find that your plants will be much happier and healthier with this treatment. It is a pleasant way to start your day with a cup of tea or coffee in one hand, and your trusty hose in the other.
If you only have 20 minutes in your desert potted garden this week: Jet-blast your potted plants, of course!
Marylee is the founder and former owner of The Contained Gardener in Tucson, Ariz. She has become known as the Desert’s Potted Garden Expert. E-mail her with comments and questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow The Potted Desert on Facebook.