Finally, we end with a big issue for gardeners here in the desert. This is the final write of failure. The failure? Overwatering.
First let's talk about Ivy and Ferns. I am sorry to report this my gardening friends, but the success rates with the English and Swedish Ivy and those beautiful Boston ferns are very low in the desert. The humidty just isn't there. A lot of Tucsonans put these plants in their sunny bathrooms where they will succeed. These could be house plants and if you're willing to put in extra time, they will do alright. They take work however. And I do love a beautiful ivy......
Let's talk about the Algerian Ivy. It comes from the very dry Canary Islands off of Western Africa. Therefore, it does really well here in Tucson. Don't ask me how or why, but I cannot get these darn vines to grow in any exposure or in any soil!!! I tend to overwater them and while they last for several months, they seem to suddenly die off!!! It's very frustrating because I love the large green leaves. They make an excellent groundcover or vine up a trellis. Many homes have them around town and they are planted in the Northern and Eastern exposures......but not for me! I have given up on these ivy plants for good because no matter what rules I've shared with you, I simply can't get them to grow! But my failure doesn't have to be yours. So many people have this plant in their yards that when I see it, I become angry. Why won't it grow for me??!! It's lush, dense, and just out of this world. Of the Ivy family, this is the greatest one to grow here in Tucson.
Okay, this isn't what this post is about....it's about overwatering and what the Algerian Ivy taught me. Many gardeners think that because we live in the desert, we should sometimes give our plants a little extra water. This is one of the greatest reasons why many of our plants fail in our gardens. I've lost many succulents, cacti, a Chinese elm, countless ivy, and other plants because I thought a little extra water would be good. The answer to this failure is observation and previous knowledge. Sometimes plant leaves decline in mid summer and it's natural. Be careful in your thinking that sometimes when a plant looks bad it needs water. There are a multitude of issues that could be happening. Soil is deficient. The sun has been relentless. Perhaps an insect has discovered your plant as a new food source. This list could go on and on.....observation and personal experience are needed. Watering a plant will just help in the advancement of its' death. Be careful. Roses sometimes look like they are in decline but it sometimes has to do with aphids or dry winds....watering them too much could help in destroying the plant with black canker. The simple truth is that once your newly placed plants are established; they shouldn't require a lot of water if you've purchased a zone appropriate plant.
There are many kinds of failures in our gardens. These past few writes are just some of the major ones. I hope they've helped for people new to gardening. I kept a long diary last year of plants and my next series, in less than a week, will be on bulbs, corns and rhyzomes in the garden. Many of you, like me, shop at Wal-Mart for things and we sometimes tend to end up in the garden section seeing these massive gorgeous bulbs. Our heads start spinning and well....it's pretty bad. I'll share with you some of the secrets to successful caladium, canna, and elephant ear growing. PS. Don't start putting them in the garden yet if you have already purchased them. My next write is on our work day that happened this past Friday....a little break from the plant series. Until next time, watch your watering....especially in winter:)