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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Container Plants Difficult to Manage for Snowbirds

Q. We winter in Boulder City in a condo RV park. Three years ago we planted a rose bush that did wonderfully well until it died last summer. The pot gets plenty of water from a drip hose. We would like to put something in the pot more capable of surviving the extremes of the high desert. I would be happy with anything that will flower or fruit when we are here in the winter and is OK with being abandoned for six months. 

A. It will be very, very difficult to grow much of anything in a pot if it is not attended to. You might be better off putting something there that will not die and, while you are here, growing something that you can dispose of when you leave such as an annual.
            The other possibility is to have someone care for your plants while you are gone. The summers here are brutal on plants as you know. We get fluctuations in our weather that are very unpredictable.
            If you insist on growing something in a container then double pot your container so that the container you are growing in is surrounded by another container or object that shades the outside of the inner container.
            Surface temperatures of containers that receive direct sunlight in late spring and summer will produce temperatures inside the container that will kill plant roots. Double potting a container with a larger container with gravel in the bottom and just airspace on the sides will help insulate the soil inside the container.
            Surface temperatures of a container will easily rise above 165F in direct sunlight. This heat transfers to the soil and cooks the roots on the side exposed.
            Another possibility will be to grow cacti in containers and watering it no more than about once every two weeks. Once a week if the container is small. Make sure the soil for the cactus drains readily. The container should still be double potted.

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