Posts

*This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for your support in this way.*

Do you have cats in your garden? I do. In fact, I have a few cats who love to spend time in the gardens surrounding my house, and none of them belong to me…technically.

Like many neighborhoods, mine has a feral cat population, and we have had cats come and go – we’ve even had kittens born behind my purple lilac vines. As you might expect, I’ve faced some challenges with cats in the garden, but have recently had several triumphs.

Several years ago, the number of strays in the neighborhood increased due to our neighbor feeding them and some of them began to use my vegetable garden as their toilet. 

My attempt to solve the problem was to plant the herb rue, which supposedly had cat-repelling properties. The local cats didn’t know that as I kept finding little ‘gifts’ in the vegetable garden.

After the rue didn’t work, I purchased a motion-controlled sprinkler head, which went off whenever the cats got too near, and that worked quite well at keeping them away. However, it also would go off whenever any of us walked too close to the veggies.

So last year, I decided to try a fine mesh garden netting to cover the vegetable garden with excellent results. It also had a welcome side benefit of decreasing caterillars because the moths couldn’t get in to lay their eggs.

My pots were also a make-shift litter box for my furry visitors. However, this was quickly rectified by placing paver stones on the bare spots in-between my plants, and they also served to cool the soil and preserve moisture in the pots.

What is it about cats and pots? This is my sister’s cat, ‘Scissors.’

Do you have roof rats? I don’t. I have ‘roof cats.’ Or, cats that like to take refuge underneath my solar panels. Of course, they make sure that I don’t have any rats lurking about.

For the past year, I have three cats who we have adopted. Of course, the cats don’t know that we’ve adopted them. What they do know is that the orange tree is wonderfully shady in the morning, the patio is blessedly cool on a hot summer’s day, and a picnic table is a great spot to gather with your friends. We don’t feed them, but they are healthy and happy.

One of our regulars visiting with our desert tortoise, Aesop.

Our family enjoys watching their antics through the window and allow them to enjoy our garden. I find myself smiling when I view them together. We have three regulars, a red tabby, a black and white cat, and a small black one.

It seems that we’ve come to a compromise – they leave my vegetable garden and pots alone and only occasionally use my rose garden as an emergency pit stop. I must say that the simple pleasure we receive from our ‘adopted’ cats is worth it.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Do you love the beauty of bougainvillea? Many of us will agree that bougainvillea is beautiful, but many homeowners hesitate to grow them for a variety of reasons. The most common that I hear is that they get too big and as a result, too messy.
 
While both statements are certainly true, wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy the beauty of bougainvillea while minimizing its size and messiness?
 
 
Growing bougainvillea in pots limits their overall size, and with smaller shrubs, there is less mess. It also makes it easier to protect them from frost damage in winter by moving the container to a sheltered location, such as underneath a patio or covering them with a sheet.
 
 
Bougainvillea make excellent container plants. In fact, many gardeners who live in cold climates, only grow them in pots so that they can bring them indoors when frigid winter temperatures arrive. Earlier this year, I met a gardener in Austin, Texas who treats bougainvillea like an annual plant, planting a new one every year to replace the old one lost to winter cold.
 
 
Growing bougainvillea in pots is easy to do. Select a location in full sun where it will promote the most bloom. Bougainvillea is one of the few flowering plants that can handle the intense heat and reflected sun in west-facing exposures. 
 
 
Provide support for them to grow upward if desired. You can also grow bougainvillea as more of a compact shrub form if you wish, and eliminate the support.
Water deeply and allow the top 2 inches to dry out before watering again. Bougainvillea does best when the soil is allowed to dry out between watering.
 
 
Apply a slow-release fertilizer in spring, after the danger of frost is passed and reapply every three months, with the last application occurring in early September.
 
Growing bougainvillea in pots keeps them small enough to make it feasible to cover them when freezing temperatures occur.  
 
So, would you consider growing bougainvillea in pots?  I’d love to hear whether or not you would and the reasons why.
 

SaveSave

SaveSave

Many of you may have discovered the beauty and low-maintenance of using succulents (including cactus) in containers.


With succulents coming in a myriad of colors and unique shapes, they add welcome beauty to our outdoor spaces.

Blue Elf Aloe (Aloe x ‘Blue Elf’)

While using succulents, as opposed to flowering annuals, in containers is more of a low-maintenance option, they do need to regular applications of fertilizer.

Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii)

Succulents that are grown in the ground get their nutrients from the surrounding soil.  Micro-organisms in the soil are constantly breaking down organic matter, which adds nutrients.  

However, the soil in pots doesn’t undergo this process and plants will need supplemental nutrients in the form of fertilizer.

This is even true of cactus and other succulents.

Lady’s Slipper (Pedilanthus macrocarpus)
So how do you go about fertilizing succulents in containers?

1. Type of Fertilizer: You can use a liquid, low-nitrogen fertilizer or go for the organic option of fish emulsion.

2. How Often to Fertilize: If you water your potted succulents monthly, apply the fertilizer at full strength, following package directions for ornamental plants.

– For succulents that are watered 2 – 3 times a month, apply the fertilizer at 1/4 the recommended strength.  

3. When to Fertilize:  Succulents should be watered during the growing season, which begins in spring, goes through summer and lasts into early fall.  


Using succulents in containers is a great way to add unique beauty to your garden and with regular fertilizing, will go on looking their best.


When trying to decide what to fill our containers with, most people gravitate toward colorful, flowering annuals.  For those of us who live in the Southwest, we are equally likely to fill our pots with cacti or succulents, which thrive in our dry climate.


However, did you know that plants aren’t the only thing that looks great in containers?  In fact, what many people would consider ‘trash’ can actually transform the look of a container and your outdoor space.



Dried plant material can add a unique and striking look to the landscape when showcased in a pot.

Besides decorating your outdoor space, they aren’t particular about sun, shade and are perfectly happy without any water or fertilizer.  

In this particular case, I had a lovely blue container in my front entry that had stood empty for longer than I would care to admit to.  The opening was too small for most plants and it sat in the shade for most of the day making it difficult to grow colorful annuals.


On a recent visit to a client whose home was surrounded by the natural desert, I found some dried plant material that would soon find its way to my house.
Among a pile of yard debris mixed in with cut tree branches and branch clippings were several dried yucca flowering stalks that had been pruned away and were waiting to be put in the trash.

Now most people would probably walk right by this pile of discarded plant material and understandably so.  But, I was on the lookout for items that the homeowner could use for a walled in patio, which was quite bare and received hot, reflected sun for most of the day.


My thought was to add colorful, glazed containers in order to bring welcome color to this space and fill them with cacti.


However, once I saw the dried yucca stalks, I decided that they would make a striking filler for a container.


The homeowner, who enjoys designing the interior of her home, saw the potential right away and selected three stalks.


The flowering stalks came from a magnificent soaptree yucca (Yucca elata) that they had growing in their front yard.


The homeowners graciously offered to give me a few of the stalks to take home.


I knew that my empty blue container would make the perfect home for dried yucca stalks.


While I love my new dried yucca stalks – they are just a few natural items that can be used in containers.


This large, dried flowering stalk from an agave would look fabulous in a container and displayed in the corner of an entry or patio.


Discarded canes from an ocotillo that would otherwise be headed toward the landfill can find new purpose as a filler for containers.


A saguaro skeleton would make a dramatic statement if ‘planted’ in a large container.


On my recommendation, this client gave up trying to grow flowering annuals in her shady entry and add colorful containers with bamboo poles.

Do you have a location where you’d like to have containers, but whatever you plant there dies?

Do any of the following situations where you’d like to have containers apply to you?

– Too much shade or sun
– Access to irrigation is limited
– You are gone for long lengths of time and can’t care for container plants
– Worried about staining the concrete or tile underneath the container from mineral buildup from watering
– You tend to kill anything you plant

If you are dealing with one or more these situations you may want to look at adding dried plant material to your containers for a unique and fuss-free look that will add beauty to your outdoor space.

Imagine a garden with containers filled with a variety of colorful flowers, herbs, ornamental grasses, succulents and even vegetables.



Wouldn’t you love to have pots that look like this, overflowing with beautiful plants?

But, what if you live in the desert?  Can you grow plants in pots that aren’t just beautiful but that can thrive in our hot, dry climate?  

Believe it or not, you can.  Whether your container garden is limited to one pot or several – you can grow plants in pots in the desert garden.


Now before you say, “I’ve got a black thumb…everything I plant in pots die”, I have a great resource for you.  

“Getting Potted In The Desert” is a wonderful resource that shows you step-by-step instructions on how to create beautiful potted gardens that will thrive in our desert climate.


While you can find other books that offer helpful advice on how to create potted gardens, “Getting Potted In The Desert” speaks specifically to those of us who live and garden in the desert Southwest where our hot, dry summers bring about special challenges.

Beyond the helpful advice on selecting containers and the right location, the book also talks about plant choices including flowering annuals, perennials, grasses, herbs, succulents and vegetables.


Clear and easy to understand guidelines are given on how to water, fertilize and how to adjust to changing weather conditions including freezing temperatures.  

What’s even better, the guidelines are broken up into monthly guides, making growing plants in pots, easy.

Lists of plants that do well in the desert container garden are also given along with lovely photographs of pots filled with plants, which will inspire you.

Herb Container Garden

The author, Marylee Pangman, has over 20 years of experience growing potted plants in the desert.  In fact, she is a certified Master Gardener and had her own company, “The Contained Gardener”, where she designed and maintained container gardens for clients.

In addition, she has taught numerous classes on growing potted gardens that can withstand hot summers and desert winters.

Flower and Vegetable Container Garden

As a horticulturist who has planted and maintained container gardens over the years, I can tell you that Marylee’s book is a godsend for those who love container gardening and need practical guidance.  

*****************************

So, now for the giveaway…

Marylee has graciously offered to send a free copy of “Getting Potted in the Desert” to the winner of this giveaway.

1. To enter, simply leave me a comment about what plant you would like to grow in pots or what you like about container gardening.  
(Be sure to leave your email address if it’s not on your profile, or I won’t have any way to contact you.)

2. For a bonus entry, like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter – (be sure to let me know in your comment).

Let your friends know about this great giveaway and I will pick a random winner on October 5th.

You can also order your own copy of “Getting Potted In The Desert” and find out more about Marylee at  www.potteddesert.com


*I was provided with a free copy of this book for my honest review.
Did you know that one of the great things about living in the Southwest is the fact that we aren’t limited to just growing flowering annuals in our pots – succulents make great alternative container plants!
 
Last year, I replaced all of my flowering plants with succulents and I haven’t looked back.  They look great and take very minimal care, which fits into my busy life perfectly.  
 
Recently, I visited the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and saw some great examples of potted succulents, which I thought I’d share with you…
 
Victoria Agave ‘Compacta’
 
Agave parryi ‘truncata’
 
Mexican Fence Post (Pachycereus marginatus)
 
A trio of variegated agave
 
‘Blue Elf’ Aloe
 
As you can see, there are so many options when you decide to use succulents in containers.  
 
Whether you live near the Desert Botanical Garden or even if you don’t – you can visit your local botanical garden for some alternative ideas for filling your containers.
 
Growing succulents in pots is easy – the most important thing is that they are well-drained, so it’s important to use a planting mix specially formulated for succulents.
 
Do you have any succulents growing in pots?

Today, I have two different unique containers to show you and both are on two wheels.


This old bicycle was located in a place where bikes and horses are commonplace and cars are not.

I saw this unique container while visiting Mackinac Island earlier this summer.  The front basket was lined with moss and filled with geraniums and trailing ivy.  The side baskets were also planted too.

The bicycle was sitting in the front garden of a quaint house and I noticed that there was a hummingbird feeder on the handle.


This bicycle planter was located in front of a shop in the historic downtown area of Noblesville, Indiana, which is located just outside of Indianapolis.

When we were young, my sister had a pink bike much like this one while I had a purple one.

As you can see, I see many neat gardening ideas on my road trips.  You can read about my trip to Mackinac Island, here and my trip to Indiana, here.

Tomorrow, I will show you a portable container that has only one wheel and not two.

One of my favorite unique containers came in a most unexpected form…


Okay, what does an old, rusty pickup truck have to do with plants?


The bed of the pickup was filled with soil and potato plants.

Now, if that isn’t a unique container, then I don’t know what is.

I saw this bed of potatoes growing at the University of Tennessee garden last year.

I don’t think that the truck runs anymore, but it certainly functions as both garden art and a planter.

Tomorrow, I have two different unique planters to show you and both are planted on two wheels.

Do you like to container garden?


I do.  


I have annual flowers, herbs, succulents and vegetables growing in a variety of containers around my garden.


Containers are a great way to expand the boundaries of your garden.  Even if you don’t have any piece of earth to grow a plant in, you can create a garden in a pot.


A couple of weeks ago, I saw some beautiful containers at a client’s home.


As you can see, they weren’t being used except to hold a child’s pool toy.

The pots were from Italy – Tuscany to be exact.

The pots had come from her husband’s restaurant, which had recently had their landscape redesigned and no longer needed the pots.  So, he brought the pots home where they have sat ever since.

My client mentioned that she was trying to get rid of them and did I know of anyone who would want them?

Are you kidding me?

Of course, I knew of someone who would want them….me!

Now, I just had to figure out how to get them to my house.  These pots were big and heavy.  But, I knew of at least two strong men who would maybe help me out.


My husband and nephew were kind enough to come out on a very hot afternoon and help me out.


The pots were quite heavy, but they were able to get them up into our truck bed with a little help from me.


The pots were a little heavier than we expected, but finally we got all three up into the truck.

On the way home, we stopped by a Dairy Queen for ice cream sundaes and to cool off.


I can’t believe that I didn’t have to pay anything for these pots, saving me hundreds of dollars.  

Of course, I am so thankful for the generosity of my client. 

Now I just have to figure out what to plant in them.  I will be using them in my back garden, which I hope to re-design this winter.

What would you plant in them?  I’d love to hear your ideas…

Come back tomorrow, when I will begin sharing a week’s worth of unique containers that I hope you enjoy!

I have been dreaming of converting our backyard into a beautiful, low-maintenance desert landscape.


Right now, it has a large area of grass surrounded by large, flowering shrubs against the wall.  I would have loved to have taken out the grass years ago, but my husband and son protested since they would throw the football back and forth each evening before dinner.

But, now my son is almost 12 and often throws the football over the wall, so now I have been give permission to at least start thinking of converting the backyard.

Often, on my way home from a landscape consult, I will mentally design my new backyard garden.  I have some concrete ideas, but there is still a lot to be decided.

Whenever I see a landscape area that I like, I stop to take a picture.  I have quite a few pictures that I have taken of landscapes that inspire me.

Here are just a few…

Red flowering Chuparosa, growing underneath native mesquite and foothills palo verde trees.  A hedgehog cactus grows by a large boulder.  Mexican bird-of-paradise, trained as trees are growing in the background.

Goodding’s verbena, chuparosa and brittlebush blooming with creosote bush in the background.

Desert ruellia provides an attractive background for golden barrel cacti.  This area needs to be pruned once every 2 years.

Young palo verde tree with potted artichoke agave.

I am still in the “designing inside my mind” stage, but will soon need to put things down on paper.  I have my drafting supplies ready to go once I am.

Of course, the entire project hinges on having enough money for large containers, big boulders, trees, plants, dirt for mounds and paying someone to rip out our grass.

I would hope to be able to do this next winter, but we will see…

Which one of the landscape areas above do you like best?