Master GArdener's guide to
the art of gardening in a hot dry climate
A highly carved stone trough, like this one from India,
can make a big impact on an otherwise dull patio. Fill it to
overflowing with seasonal favorites. Use Indian
fabrics on pillows and your patio with have an exotic mood.
Pots on the Patio
After shovels, terra cotta pots may be the
most useful items for your garden -- and true classic
ornaments in a Mediterranean garden. You can use them to...
- Add a splash of color to your patio every month of
the year with pots of colorful perennials and annuals.
- Fill in temporarily empty spaces in a flower border.
- Define "rooms" on the patio or in your garden. A few
pots set alongside the pavers in the lawn will help keep
everyone on the path. Pots containing larger plants can
be wall-like at the edge of a patio or the edge of a
- Grow colorful and delicious vegetables such as
tomatoes, eggplants or peppers.
- Grow herbs such as thyme, basil, oregano, chives and
mint. Mint in particular is so invasive that planting in
a pot is practically the only way to keep it under
- Grow tender trees such as citrus that might not
survive a cold winter in an exposed area of your yard.
- Tell your visitors where your front door is. A
topiary in a large pot is a clear signal for guests.
||Stacking pots of ornamental peppers on an old
ladder is one way to add color to your patio in
How To Plant Flowers and
Trees in Pots
The array of pots available now is astounding. But
whatever the size or color of pot you choose, follow these
rules for planting.
Make sure the pot is big enough for your plant or
tree. It should be large enough to accommodate at least
one year of root growth.
Use good soil -- packaged potting mix may be the best
choice. It has been sterilized so you won't be
introducing any soil problems or diseases.
Do NOT fill the bottom of the pot with gravel or
other coarse material. Surprisingly, this may impede
drainage. A simple curving piece of broken pot over the
drainage hole will keep your potting mixture from
If the potting mix doesn't have fertilizer in it, add
a little bit. You will want to lightly fertilize most
potted plants -- indoors and out--every couple of weeks
during the growing season. Or use a slow-release
Stir in some polymers to the potting mix. These
granules retain water and release it slowly to the soil.
That can mean you have to water the potted plants less
Double-pot to help protect pots exposed to direct
summer sun. The inner pot should be terra cotta to
absorb water to cool the pot and to allow the plant
roots to breathe. The outer pot should be large enough
to allow you to put insulation between the two pots to
further help control heat. For insulation, use sphagnum
moss, coarse mulch, wood chips or crumpled newspaper.
Do NOT plant in metal containers because the roots with
cook and the plant will die.
Move planted pots into shade on hot days.
As the weather heats up, you may
still have to water your potted plants two or more times a
day. And always keep this in mind -- plants in pots are like
animals in the zoo. They rely entirely on you to provide
them with everything they need to survive.
For a guide to picking healthy
plants in the nursery,
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