Pots under even a partial ramada will not get much water when it rains.

Temperatures for much of the last week have been approaching 110 degrees—as you already know!

Well, this week, we’re talking about rain. With all of the blazing sun, you might think: Why is she writing about rain? Well, we do occasionally get a summer rain shower or two in July and/or August (and as of this writing, Weather.com is reporting a 30 percent chance of precipitation on Thursday), so it’s important to be prepared, just in case, so we can help our plants get all the benefits!

Too often, desert homeowners make the mistake of thinking that a rainstorm means they can cut back on irrigating or hand-watering their pots, gardens and other plants. Don’t do that. After all:

  • One inch of rain is needed to saturate the root ball of your plants. We are unlikely to get that amount all summer, much less in one storm.
  • In the unlikely event of a deep, soaking rain (more than an inch) received over a long time period (several hours), it will only replace one day’s worth of watering.
  • Pots under a ramada, tree or overhang do not receive much, if any, rain.
  • Pots in full sun with flowers and other ‘soft’ plants are accustomed to daily watering. A missed watering will cause your plants to be stressed—and this invites problems, including pest invasion and disease.
  • Remember, potted cacti and succulents need water, too, rain or no rain!

Some other tips:

Capture rainwater: Put out pots, cans—anything you can put your hands on—to capture rainwater. Use it to water plants under your covered areas. Micro-nutrients in the rain are great for potted plants!

Measure your rain: It’s fun to see how much rain we get at our homes in comparison to the measurements at the airport. Pick up a rain gauge at your local hardware store, and place it in a location where it will catch rain without being hampered by tree branches or overhangs. (I have mine in a pot!)

Deadhead: Continue to deadhead your annuals, and prune to create new growth and a well-shaped plant.

Fertilize: Your potted gardens every two weeks with a water-soluble fertilizer. Rains will support wild growth!

Jet spray: Regardless of whether it rains, spray all of your potted plants, including flowers, shrubs, cacti and succulents, every day if you are able. This will increase air circulation and deter pests and disease such as spider mites, powdery mildew, aphids, etc. As long as your plants are well established, i.e., they have been growing all summer in their pots, do not be afraid of using the jet setting on your hose. Stand about three feet from the plants.

Marylee Pangman is the founder and former owner of The Contained Gardener in Tucson, Ariz. She has become known as the Desert’s Potted Garden Expert. Marylee is available for digital consultations, and you can email her with comments and questions at potteddesert@gmail.com; follow the Potted Desert at facebook.com/potteddesert.