By Linda Green
Some of the local Civano residents know me as the “watering plant lady!” Yup, that’s me, but I do so much more. I also do garden upkeep for those folks who go away for the summer but want to return in the fall to the wonderful plants and flowers they had created in the springtime.
I have also been creating a great and fun garden in my own front yard. Ahhh, what is lush and colorful in March through May might not always stay that way until about mid-November without a lot of effort. Over the past three years I have learned just how much effort it takes. That love and effort surely pays off and creates a pleasant addition to my home.
For the past forty years I have always had houseplants. Over the years I even had rose bushes and a variety of the usual garden plants — all of which have brought me to the realization that to create a wonderful and successfully growing garden, it takes a lot more know-how than just putting a plant into a pot and watering it.
Now that I have a home with an east-facing front yard with a big mesquite tree that offers wonderful shade, yet filters the morning sun, I have the perfect setting to create my garden and learn the skills to successfully grow flowers and plants outside. I also realize that having more time on my hands is a big plus. Available time to maintain all of the plants is actually high on the criteria for having a successful garden. Good sun/shade conditions are very important, as these can make or break all of one’s efforts.
Many folks love the look of colorful flowers on their porches or in their yards. I know I do. In Arizona, I have found that starting by re-potting my new plants and fertilizing those that have made it through the winter, often starts as early the end of February, and definitely in March. It usually is pretty easy to maintain that loveliness until the end of May–in a good year.
As long as you don’t over-water the geraniums, but keep ferns, petunias, and most other things fairly moist and out of the direct sunlight, adequate and regular watering is pretty much the key to keeping the plants alive and thriving. The marigolds, however, are a flower that loves the sun and the water.
I have learned that once petunias are dry and start really wilting, that may be the end of their healthy look. Also, I have learned that once a leaf is dry and crunchy, it is the end of that plant or flower. Then the only thing to do is cut it back to a few inches above the dirt line and hope it grows back. It probably will much of the time. That is usually my first line of defense before I pluck it out of the ground completely. It is fun to watch a plant re-grow. Patience, just a little patience.
That brings me to realize just where I need to place certain plants. Most flowers that I have put into a pot require a filtered shade (meaning, some sun) instead of direct all-day sun. Morning sun works well, but definitely not the afternoon sun.
However, certain plants just love the sun and won’t grow well in the shade. Go figure! My Texas Ranger had to be pulled from the ground after it almost died from lack of full sun (due to the wonderful mesquite tree). When I tried to replant it someplace else, it didn’t like being pulled from the ground, and it totally died. So, no replanting for that one.
Alas, during the past four years of creating my yearly flower garden, my questions became many and frequent. I was an avid internet burner trying to find out the answers, but I am one of those people who actually learns better visually and verbally, so I realized that we have a great resource in our own neighborhood.
Civano Nursery is not only for buying plants, flowers, and bushes. Their staff has been very patient and generous with answering my frequent and many questions. In my case, my numerous phone calls or visits to the nursery with plant samples in hand have been a great asset to my learning process, and my garden has shown me what love can achieve.
The nursery has also helped me select plants for whatever sun or shade spot I have. Due to their all around knowledge and plant selection, I have been able to make my garden beautiful, and now I pass that info along to others who I see are trying to create their own gardens.
I must say that all of these ideas and suggestions for plants, flowers, and their maintenance come from my own experience. An expert may feel differently, and there are always exceptions and different experiences. I have more I could tell about gardening, and suggest you look at the next issue of The Town Crier to hear more about bugs and the art of pruning.