Hi, i'm a newbie and looking to do a small container garden here in
Scottsdale, Arizona. I have a East Facing patio that gets sun until
about 1p and a North facing entry-landing (1st floor) that is
partially under a stairwell and so half of it gets sun until about 2p
i've started reading and asking my mother (in NM) about planting and
gardening but wanted to get more advice and links to what i'd like to
Ideally i'd have this amazing container garden that is an oasis inthe
desert, but what i'm really looking at is to make my patio a bit
prettier and nice to sit and relax/read in duringthe cool
springs/falls/winters and to make the entry-landing evoke calmness and
let me know i'm "home".
since i cook, i'd like to grow some veggies and herbs, say tomatoes
(er fruit, i guess), basil, thyme, rosemary.
and since i work fulltime and dance quite a bit, i'm generally away
from home alot so i only have moderate time weekly to maintain them.
I'd like some shrubs, foliage, and flowers. apparently Sago Palms are
quite popular here, but i'm not so fond of the Palm look. i like
Geraniums. I think Lavender are quite pretty. Roses are nice; but
Orchids are my fave flower. daisies are nice.
i have a a few questions:
I'm a bit confused about Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade, Shade. I
understand that Full Sun is fully int he sun (obv), but does that mean
all day or most of the day? Does an area that gets full sun until 1p
and then is in shade qualify as part shade? or is part shade a place
that is partly shady all day? i'm sure this is quite obv to many of
you but to me, it's just a little confusing.
how do i know how big a container to get for my plants? I hear that
Geraniums like cramped roots and so to get a container that's not too
big. ok. But in general???
i plan to buy one plant each of a couple and use them as a "test-bed"
as practice. any suggestions of what to try?
any comments, suggestions, links, faqs are highly welcome.
Also, are there gardening groups that get together and meet? i'd like
to sit and hear what they have to say about sutff here in AZ.
And anyone in Scottsdale or Phoenix-metro area: what are the better,
nicer nurseries that i should visit.
Goro, I recommend the first thing is pick up a copy of Sunset Western
Garden Book, published by the Sunset magazine folks. It is well worth
Sunset has divided up the western states into 24 climate zones, yours
is Zone 13. The Sunset Western Garden Book contains an extensive
encyclopedia which lists over 6,000 plants and includes their
requirements for zone, light, and water.
Their definitions for light requirements are:
Full sun - unobstructed sunlight all day or almost all day, can
include an hour or so of shade at the beginning or end of the day.
Partial shade - shade for half the day or for at least 3 hours during
the hottest part of the day.
Full shade - little or no direct sunlight (North side of the house,
under a dense tree, etc.).
They also have four different watering categories:
Arid - no water needed at all once the plant has been in place about 1
or 2 years.
Semi-arid - plant will take some drying out of soil but should be
soaked well 4-5 times during the growing season.
Regular water - don't let the soil dry out or become waterlogged. May
need regular weekly or daily watering.
Wet - soil needs to be consistently wet or moist.
As far as growing in containers, I think just about any plant can be
grown in containers. Generally speaking, the only real difference the
container size makes is in how big the plant will grow. Usually the
more confined the roots, the smaller the plant will stay. You can
always repot into a larger size container. If a plant likes "tight
feet" (or a cramped pot) the Sunset book will tell you, and if it
doesn't mind being in a large pot then its up to you to choose the pot
Watering needs will have to be closely watched in containerized
plants. Heat, wind, and aridity can cause a lot of water to be taken
out of the plant. I recommend you get a probe which you poke down
into each pot and read the moisture level. A nursery will have one,
and they are reasonably priced.
You might want to think about an automatic drip irrigation system if
you don't have much time to devote to the plants. You can tailor each
emitter to the watering requirements of each plant.
Plastic pots will require less watering than terra cotta or unglazed
As far as your specific plants mentioned, tomatoes do very well in
containers. Tomatoes like at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each
day and regular water. Lots of herbs like basil, dill, sage,
rosemary, and thyme can get by with less water; parsley and chives
like regular watering. Use the moisture probe and lean towards
underwatering rather than overwatering, when in doubt.
Orchids would do best out of the direct light but in a North-facing
location. Direct sunlight will scorch the leaves and eventually kill
the plant. Orchids like higher humidity so may not do well in AZ.
Air conditioners remove moisture from the air so unless you have the
orchids in a bathroom or near the kitchen sink you may not have
Geraniums and roses will take all the light you can give them and do
well in containers. You might try dwarf citrus like lime, orange,
lemon. They will do nicely where you are.
Just dive in and start. The Sunset book and your common sense will
see you through.
Hope this helps!
On 4 Jun 2004 08:44:09 -0700, email@example.com (Goro) wrote:
See my <http://www.rossde.com/garden/garden_potting_mix.html for a
do-it-youself potting mix. See my
<http://www.rossde.com/garden/dwarf_citrus.html for growing dwarf
citrus in containers.
I usually recommend either clay pots or redwood tubs because they
tend to keep roots cool. If you can't water daily in the summer,
use containers larger than usual; you still might have to water at
least every other day.
Alternatively, you can use plastic pots set into decorative ceramic
or concrete containers. In this case, allow 1-2" of space between
the inner pot and the outer container, for air circulation and so a
hot outer container does not cook the plant. Be careful when
watering and during any rain that excessive water does not
accumulate in the outer container and drown the plant.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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