Cactuses and succulents are great to work with for many reasons. They are especially easy for the "gardener" who doesn't have a lot of time and knowledge of gardening. They are relatively easy to take care of and since they grow slowly, you don't have to re-pot them frequently, you can leave them unattended for extended lengths of time and don't have to be exact when selecting a location to place them.
Succulents are plants that store water in their leaves, stems and roots. That is why they look bloated, soft and squishy. They can adapt to the arid desert landscape or the polar opposite - a beach climate. You can find them at mountain cabins and residential front yards. Of course the most recognized succulent is the "hen & chick" and they are adorable to grow. Especially in a Arizona Pottery Chicken pot.
Cacti are a type of succulent but unfortunately for small children, pets and some adults, they have sharp spikes. It is best to put them in a location where people are not likely to come in contact with them. They are unusual in shape and size but interesting to look at. Here in Arizona the cacti is sacred.
Both types mentioned above really only require some direct sun year round and should be protected come winter time. If you can move them indoors and place them in a sunny window - all the better. If they are to large to move, try placing the large plant on a pot caddy and move it to a sunny patio area when necessary.
The best types of pots to use are terracotta. Because of the breatheability of clay it really keeps the roots from standing water. A shallow container is also acceptable because the root systems are very shallow. Try selecting a size and style that compliments the succulents. Don't place small cacti in a large container in anticipation of growth. They will look silly and dwarfed. These grow slowly! Don't forget to think out side the box when selecting a container. We love to use pocket pots and place a different type of succulent in each pocket. This look is great!
Fertilize once a month, select soil meant for this type of plant material and don't forget to water them. Just because they don't need to be watered every day doesn't mean you can just forget about them.
How can you give your backyard serenity and all on a limited budget? By doing it yourself and following a few simple steps. You can create a peaceful, private, colorful surrounding - that you can enjoy both alone or with a group of people.
By mixing hardscapes with softscapes, ying & yang, subdued or colorful, the main idea is to mix things up till you get the "feeling" you are going for. Many items can be made by purchasing simple items from Arizona Pottery. You can use pottery for fire pits, water features, as barrier walls that separate garden areas from entertainment spots. Keeping things simple doesn't mean barren. You need to just spend a little extra time in pre-planning and purchasing. The finished areas should make you want to spend time in them - time and time again.
Below are listed a few tips that should help you move along with this project.
*Fireside Seating: One of the easiest ways to encourage year round patio usage - is to place a fire pit in your yard or on the patio area. The visual effect is warming and comfortable, especially on a cool, winters' evening. It doesn't have to be a roaring blaze but a subtle flame that flickers and dances, creating wonderful shadows. Place by a seating area or create a seating area for those who want to get up close and personal. A fire pit will truly create a peaceful place to enjoy the fragrance and hard work of a well kept garden or yard.
Simplicity: Packing your garden area with every item you can find at your local garden center, will NOT give you the peace & tranquility that you are trying to create. Once you set up an area, you need to stand back and look it over. Then start taking things away. Clean lines are what you are shooting for and the best way to get them is to remove one item for every new item you add. Keep the look and feel of the patio area - clean & sparse.
Spots of color: Don't plant every colorful flower known to man. Select a color scheme, or mix and match with muted hues and splashes of color. A few bright flowers are enough to give some interest to the landscape without over whelming it. If you place colorful flowering plants at a distance it will draw you into that area instead of having color all placed right in your face.
Quiet spaces: You don't have to make every area in the yard a place for entertaining. Sometimes you just need a quiet spot to sit and think. Maybe just take a deep breathe and relax. It can be a happy spot but it usually requires a quiet corner under a tree, surrounded by lots of green planting materials. A view is wonderful even if it is only of your patio area. Place the bench and then sit on it and look around. Are you seeing the neighbors old shed or a dead tree that needs to be tended to? Then move the bench. You are looking for serenity and peace.
Unlimited boundaries: Try to block your property boundaries. If you have a fence, plant climbing vines to cover it. Bushes and shrubs help to hide unsightly barriers. You want the area to feel expansive. Large trees that surround the area can create the feeling of a wilderness that is just beyond your immediate yard. Many small trees can be purchased for very little expense and they grow so fast that you will have barriers in no time. Don't spend the money for a fully grown tree.
Plant materials: Concentrate on your plant materials and not just furnishings. The homemade trellis shown at right is the perfect example of how - even in the city - you can create a soft barrier of green that is soothing. Use a color pallet of blues, greens, and silvers in your plants foliage. Use grasses, bushes, cacti, succulents and other minimalist plant materials.
You want to create a serene backdrop for your home. The goal is to be able to complete it for the least a mound of expense for the biggest impact. Take some time, plan a little and you should be able to create your ultimate tranquility garden.
Here is a simple perennial division calendar that will assist you throughout the year when it comes to dividing plants.
Spring: Divide potted perennials that flower from midsummer to fall as well as those grown primarily for foliage. The earlier you get the job done, the longer they will have to settle in before they really need to get growing.
Summer: Finish dividing spring bloomers in early summer, then take a break since mid-summer is not a good time to divide most actively growing perennials. At the end of August, dividing can start again.
Fall/Winter: Finish dividing potted plants by early fall so there is time for new roots to grow before winter. From late fall though winter, check on plants you divided earlier to make sure freeze and thaw cycles have not pushed the crowns out of the soil Cover any exposed crowns and roots with sol or mulch until you can replant them in spring.
Tips to follow for success:
* Water the clumps to be divided the day before.
* If top growth is good, cut back so it's easier to see what your doing.
* Discard dead or weak looking portions from the center of the clump.
* Get the divisions back into the ground quickly. Don't let them dry out.
* Use a large knife to divide tight clumps of perennials.
* Divide clumps without lifting the entire clump. Cut a portion off the side.
The Doughnut Syndrome: Divide if you see a perennials with an empty center surrounded by a ring of vigorous growth. Replant the healthy looking parts and discard the rest.
Break it up: If you can easily see or feel that a perennial crown is rather loose, you can probably break it apart by hand. Replant or repot each piece provided it has top growth and roots.
A soil knife. also known as a hori hori knife, has a pointed tip to pry apart the crown and a serrated edge on one side to cut tight or woody crowns. Look for it in mail order catalogues like gardenersedge.com
Dig out plugs from carpet-form perennials with a trowel. Fill the holes you leave with soil or a soil compost mix.
Dividing perennials, potted or not, serves a number of important purposes, It rejuvenates tired, old plants, improves bloom production, encourages stronger stems and decreases disease problems. Plus, on plants that are too vigorous, frequent division slows down their spread, which is of special value to those with limited space. As a bonus, division gives you extra plants to share with others or barter for varieties you would like to add to your garden.
Remember: "The first year they sleep, the second year they creep, and the third year, they leap".
CLEANUP ADVICE: If washing with a mild detergent and water doesn't get the job done, try these tips:
Give it a soak. If it is stained or ringed by hard-water deposits, fill it with equal parts white vinegar and warm water, then add some mild detergent and mix. Let it stand overnight, then remove the sediment with a bottle brush. Phoenix has incredibly hard water!
Try eggshells. If a bit of stain remains, fill the vase with the same vinegar/water/detergent solution and add a few crushed eggshells to the mix. Cover the opening of the vase and shake until the remaining sediment lossens. Do that right away; don't let the solution stand overnight. The eggshells act as a scouring agent. If the neck of the vase is very narrow, eggshells might not fit, but try dry rice grains. They may just do the trick.
Drop in a denture tablet. Fill the vase with warm water and plop in the tablet. Follow the instructions on the package or let the vase stand overnight. As the tablet dissolves, it will remove residue. Empty the water and rinse.
Keep them looking fresh and lovely by applying these easy tips.
Sunflower Seeds are tasty on their own and add delicious crunch to cereals, salads, chicken dishes and yogurt parfaits - and now research shows they can keep you energized all day long!
The reason: A single handful (2oz.) prvides a full days dose of vitamin E, and Yale researchers have discovered that folks who get their daily RDA (22.5 IU) of this powerful nutrient from food, not supplements, have more energy and endurance. Keep them on hand or better yet, grown your own. It is easy and fun to do!
Sunflowers are easy and inexpensive to grow!
Place seeds 1" deep and 6" apart in average to rich soil. Plant in full sun, where they will not shade other plants. Water well and keep the soil failrly mooist until the seeds sprout. The seeds should be ready to harvest in 70 to 90 days, when the back of the flower head has turned mostly brown. Cut the head off, leaving a few inches of stalk. Hang to dry in a well ventilated area. Extract the seeds by rubbing two flower heads together.
East raw or roast lightly in the oven.
When planting them in pots, make sure the pot is large enough to hold the top heavy plant. Put one plant per pot so there is plenty of room for root growth. Try placing a plant stand with wheels under the pot so that you can move it around to where the sun is.
Sunflowers are useful, lovely and easy to grow. Give it a try!
1. One to two days before re-potting, water the plant well - the roots can actually break off if you remove the plant when the soil is dry. Ask the sales person at the nursery which potting soil is best for your plant, since it may require a special blend. choose a new terra cotta or ceramic pot that is 2" larger in diameter than the current one.
This isn't the time to be modest. Get a nice planter that is large enough so your don't find yourself re-planting the same plant next season.
2. If your pot does not have drainage holes, carefully drill two or three in the bottom using a power drill. Place a coffee filter in the bottom of the pot, covering the holes, to keep the soil from washing out while still allowing water to drain. Fill the container with a couple of inches of soil. Better yet, us the Pot filler that we sell at Arizona Pottery. It is made of recycled materials, lets excess water out and keeps soil in place. Click here for more information.
3. Turn the potted plant upside down, holding one hand on the pot's bottom and the other palm on the soil with the plant stem between your fingers. Pull off the pot while wiggling the plant down into your hand. Check the roots; if they look tightly wound or are growing in a circular pattern, gently loosen them. Clip black roots, which may be rotten.
4. Place the plant in the middle of the new container and check to see that the soil line will be about 1" below the pot rim. If the plant is sitting too low, pull it out and add more soil to the bottom until you get the correct level. Add soil to the sides to fill, gently patting as you go, until the soil reaches the plant's existing soil line. Water well.
Grow Now: Flowering TreesMagnolias brighten the sky with their tulip shaped blooms in late winter. Other trees that begin to bloom now include flowering plums, cherries, crab apples, and red buds. Red buds are dependable and very easy to grow. Try starting them in a lovely garden pot and eventually transplant to a nice area in your yard.
Grow Herbs - Thyme, chives, sage, and basil are nice to have nearby when you are cooking. Ready to grow herb kits are available and take much of the guesswork out of growing herbs from seeds. However, purchasing a herb trio planter set and then getting the seeds that you really like from your local nursery is also very easy to do. We sell the pots.
Note Spring's arrival - A sunny day in winter is all it takes to create March Madness - the sudden urge to go outside and start planting your summer garden. The first day of spring arrives on March 20, and though it means the season has officially changed, it does not mean cold weather is over, and it may not coincide with the last frost date in your area. So what can you plant? Snapdragons, marigolds, nasturtiums, petunias, and dianthus can handle the cool days.
Lawn care - Fertilize cool-season lawns such as Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and perennials rye grass now. Wait to feed warm-season lawns such as St. Augustine and Bermuda until after they turn green.
Attract Bluebirds - Encourage bluebirds with well-build and handsome new boxes. Good ones always have access for easy cleaning. Place them in open areas away from shrubs, 4 to 5 feet above ground. Bluebirds like having clear flyways from their boxes to fences that make good perches. They are capable of eating large quantities of lawn and garden insects and are among the most loved and beautiful of all birds. Look for houses here at Arizona Pottery.