Wouldn't it be great to step out onto your patio or balcony and pick a juicy orange, lemon, kiwi, or other fruit and savor its fresh taste?
Growing container fruit outside in the summer, then inside in the winter is a rewarding and exciting pastime. Right now many nurseries are full of bare root plants for purchase and the increase in interest of doing so has never been higher. The greater availability of good-quality miniature varieties is a big factor.
Many people like growing citrus plants for their sweet flowering fragrance and their colorful gems of orange and golden fruit. Citrus Meyer Lemon and Calamondin Orange are favorites. The Meyer Lemon is know for its flavorful fruit, and once you've tasted one, growing back to regular table lemons is almost impossible. The Orange, is prized for its attractiveness, small miniature size and abundant growth. Of course harvesting them for orange marmalade is a must.
In other Arizona Potteryblog entries we have discussed the care of potted fruit trees in detailed terms so here lets just sum up. Citrus plants should not be over watered. Give them plenty of sunshine year round and grow them in terracotta pots so the roots have a chance to dry down.
Planting citrus trees in garden planters is a exciting and popular trend that you should try.
If you've ever sat staring at an empty container waiting for inspiration to strike, then this blog entry should help. This entry is on planting a shade container. Hope it helps!
The photo left shows a concrete planter pot that stands at the entrance to a shady courtyard. The deep rich burgundy color of 'Big Red Judy' coleus provides the backdrop for the soft yellow and muted red of 'Gay's Delight', making it the true star of the show. Tucked in at the edge of the container, the crazy quilt pattern of tine 'Pink Chaos' adds just enough extra color to bring the eye downward to the anchor plants, which are special in their own right.
Transitioning from the height of the taller plants, the shorter growing Rumex leads you to the dark metallic-looking leave of 'BlackScallop' ajunga. Last is the spilling creeping vine coming off the outer edge of the planter, which softens the effect of the bolder shapes above. Stunning!
Always start with good potting soil and add moisture beads at the time of planting to ensure that thirsty plants like coleus get wheat they need to look their best. Since this is primarily a foliage container, using a high nitrogen fertilizer regularly during the season will promote leaf growth and discourage strength sapping flower spikes.
Coleus will attain a fuller shape with frequent pinching of their terminal leaves; Big Red Judy in particular can outgrow her companions without a little helpful pruning.
Check the ultimate growth height of each coleus you plant, placing the shorter variety close to the front of the plant container so they don't become overshadowed by the more aggressive plants.
With plants being devastated by drying winds, fluctuating temperatures, and sometimes the lack of insulating snow, gardens in the foothills and plains are often desolate scenes from November through March
Listed here are ways to overcome these forces and to even use aspects of our climate and landscape to compensate for winter bleakness. The best way is to capture the light is with evergreen plants that have reflective leaves such as cranberry cotoneaster (Cotoneaster dammeri) Twigs of coppiced willow and dogwood, when side lit or back lit by low sun rays, can bring luminous color to a stark winter garden.
Fortunately this time of year the air is so dry that stalks and seed heads can last for months, giving some design to the landscape and grasses and herbs add wonderful texture.
You can line pathways and flower beds with rough native stone to add color or tumbled colored glass which we offer for sale.
One of the best ways to add character to your stark winter yard is to add a bright colored statue or bench. Sitting among the starkness it will really pop and add that extra touch that is so needed this time of year.
Prune judiciously - meaning when trimming back trees and shrubs this time of year use an eye to preventing heavy snow loads on key branches. Make hedges narrow at the top and broad at the base for example
Schedule watering - at the end of the growing season, hold off on water and fertilizer to harden off plants and prevent new growth that will be susceptible to killing temperatures. Water trees monthly and smaller plants twice a month.
Wrap young trees - protect young trees from sun scald by wrapping their trunks for several winters. This helps prevent bark feeding by deer, a huge problem in many gardens.
Protect juniper branches - juniper is very popular in many garden so tie the top branches around the trunk with twine to prevent splitting and spreading from heavy spring snow.
Temperature - Indoor plants don't like drafty areas. They don't behave like outdoor plants and most common types of indoor potted plants are not adaptable to all situations. A new indoor gardener might place the potted plant in a sunny window thinking that the sun will help with growth.
However what usually happens it the plant dries up from the rising temperature change and then gets cold at night from sitting on a cold windowsill. The best action to take for a potted plants health is move the plant into a morning sunny window when the sun is less intense. Then move it out of the sun after a couple of hours. Check the plants leaves for signs of burn or if more sun is needed.
Pottery selection: Select a pot that fits your plants needs and your rooms decorative desire. Make sure the pot is large enough to accommodate root growth but not so large that when watered it saturates and drowns the poor plant. Many garden pots have drain holes which is most healthy for any plants roots system, so buy a saucer to protect the surface you place the potted plant on. This is a time to be creative and match your homes decor. Have fun!
Watering & Soil: Go with sterilized garden soil that can be purchased from a garden center or nursery. It is not recommended that you dig up dirt in your yard and use that since it may contain pests or disease. A good rule of thumb when watering potted indoor plants is to keep the soil moist, not dry or wet. Don't drown your plant, make sure the water run off is emptied and check regularly that the soil doesn't dry out.
Fertilizer: Don't feed the potted houseplant to much because it can burn the plants roots and use a fertilizer made specifically for houseplants. Their nutrient needs are different that garden plants. So do not overfeed but make sure they get something every couple of weeks.
If you watch the temperature, get some natural morning sunlight, feed the soil with nutrients, water when needed, you should have lovely and healthy houseplants that you can be proud of.
Now is the time to shop for and plant bare-root roses, fruit trees, cane berries and grapes. Soak the roots in a bucket of water before planting. Make sure the pots under eaves are receiving enough water. Even in rainy weather, they may get too dry. If frost is in the forecast, water sensitive plants the afternoon before. Well-hydrated roots can help stave off frost burn.
Most fruit trees can be planted in garden pots. The one exception is cherries, since even dwarf types can reach 10 feet in large containers. Of course when choosing containers bigger is better. Start with a pots that's at least 18 inches deep and wide, and has drain holes, then fill it with quality potting mix. This gives the root's lots of room to get a healthy start with.
The best material used is terra-cotta because it is meant to breathe and helps keep the root system healthy. However, terracotta is also meant to break down over time. It will absorb the water in the soil and over a few years the chemicals in the water will eat away at the clay, causing it to eventually rot away. Most containers will work as long as they have a drain hole, so look at using colorful ceramic pots, decorative poly resin, or concrete.
Dwarf trees are great because they remain fairly small and manageable. They are easy to pot and can be placed next to a kitchen door or on a patio area. If your tree gets to large, you can always plant it in your yard.
Tips: Soak roots in water for at least 4 hrs before planting.
Plants that get full sun, good air circulation, and regular water and organic fertilizer are least prone to insects and diseases, making pest control easier.
Good sanitation also helps. Harvest fruit as soon as it matures, and keep the ground around the pot clean of leaves and fruit which attracts pests. If birds are a problem, cover the fruit tree with netting. It helps.
Even though Spring is a ways off - this time of year - you should still be thinking about several garden chores that are crying out for attention right now. These simple tasks will pay off when Springtime rolls around.
Prepare your garden tools. Tune up your lawn mower and sharpen the blades. Wipe the wooden handles of garden tools with linseed oil and sharpen tool's edges. Replace broken handles or purchase new tools. Take a quick inventory and make a list of new tools you would like to buy and old ones you need to replace.
Pull out and spot check all of your garden pots - looking for cracks, chips, and damaged areas. Make a inventory list of basic pots you will need to get your Spring planting started. Walk around the patio, porch and garden areas where you will want to place decorative & over sized pottery. Take a tape measure and check out the approx height and width that a pot can be so that you are prepared while shopping online. Try not to guess-estimate the size needed. This is a common mistake made when ordering online.
Prune Shrubs and trees. Remove dead branches from woody plants, Then remove any cross-over branches that complete for sunlight. After several years, very little pruning is necessary. These shrubs & trees will be on their way to becoming beautiful specimens. However, if a shrub is neglected for several years, it make take 3 to 4 more years to get it back to health. One exception is late winter pruning on spring blooming shrubs. Don't prune anything except dead branches until these plants finish blooming.
Test the soil in pots and flower beds. If plants in one area did not perform well, take soil samples to local nursery to analyze it for help or move the plant to better locations and see how you do then.
Last recommendation is to keep a garden journal in the coming season. It helps to plan garden events so you can track when items bloomed and if or when you may of experienced any bad occurances.
The secret to great health may be right in the clay pots you have sitting on your windowsill. Many herbs add not only flavor to food but also offer a slew of health benefits. Lets answer some quick questions on growing herbs.
Basil, most mints, bay, rosemary, savory and oregano are some of the easier herbs to grow in pots. Of course un-glazed terra-cotta is the best container material to use but other pots work well. The reason is simple: terra-cotta allows moisture and air to pass through. Other materials are usually high fired and are meant to repel moisture. If the pot has a drain hole this helps the water to pass through and just moisten the soil not saturate it.
Herbs also need as much light as possible - at least 4 to 5 hours of direct sunlight is preferred - a day. Use a grow light if necessary during certain times of year when sunlight is hard to come by.
If you start to notice pests like whiteflies, spider mites, or aphids - just use an insecticidal soap spray which is harmless to animals & humans. If your herbs get mealybugs or scale, discard them and start over with new plants.
From a basil plant in a sunny garden window, you can hardest a quarter pound of leaves in one cutting. Indoor herbs tend to reach for the light and become leggy; to force bushier, more attractive growth, pinch them back regularly about one to two inches a the growing tips. Don't hack them back as much as you would a plant outdoors in the ground.
There are many ways to use potted fresh herbs. Add to salads give great depth of flavor. Use chives in egg & omelettes dishes. Toss fresh mint into ice tea or black tea for a touch of sweetness. Nothing tastes as good as fresh basil on a hot oven pizza. Experiment and have fun!
Did you know that Basil is a natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial which is rich in magnesium?
Did you know that Dill oils may help carcinogens?
Did you know that Cilantro not only taste great in salsa but it is a good source of disease fighting phytonutrients?
Herbs are fun to grow, healthy to eat and taste fresh & fantastic. Give them a try.