Newbie! HELP!!

Karlee.BabeJuly 15, 2012

Hey all,

I just wanted to drop in and say hi. I am an EXTREME novice to gardening. The only type of gardening I've done is watering plants while house sitting so basically none, lol.

Anyway, I live in downtown Phoenix in one of the highrise condos. There's not much room for an actual garden, but I would like to have some flowers etc out on the patio. Our patio gets a lot of sun throughout the day so I want to make sure I'm starting out right. I've been told and have seen online that plants such as Moss Rose, Lantana, and Vinca are all pretty good in full sun and are supposedly better choices for beginner gardeners. Besides that, I'm thinking maybe a few small cacti and succulents (in different containers from the flowers, of course). I'm not sure whether I am well informed or not so hopefully someone can help!

ANY help will be welcomed and appreciated! Thanks!

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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

Welcome! First things first: Is this a ground level patio or a balcony? What direction does it face, E,W,N,S? Is it mostly in sun or shade? It all makes a big difference in what you choose. About this time of year, "full sun" usually means a quick death. Give us some answers and I'm sure you'll get lots of suggestions.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 10:35AM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

Welcome to the forum. We hope you'll post often. There are tons of great plants that do well in containers, so you do have a lot of options. Lantanas are great for sunny spots, and in containers especially if you want a compact growing type. It would be good to start slowly at this time of year since it's our most challenging season, especially for container plants, like tomato mentioned. I'd test drive some lantanas and vincas if I couldn't wait. Don't forget to use good quality "container potting soil" for your containers.

You'll have tons of options in winter for leafy, flowering goodness, like geraniums and petunias if your balcony stays sunny.

There are some great books for local gardening, so check those out, plus this wonderful forum too. Looking forward to seeing and hearing more!

Take care,
adding a link to my pics for this'll notice LOTS of containers on my patios, LOL.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pics, so far, from my garden July 2012

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 12:50PM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Understanding that this is a very strange place to garden is definitely the first step, lol.... I can't beat the previous given advice, so good luck and hope to see you here in cyber space. Welcome!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 1:48PM
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Thanks for the tips so far!

Tomato, we live on the 14th floor and our balcony faces east. There are no shades really so there's direct sunlight for a good portion of the day until the sun goes to the other side of the building. So we get morning and early afternoon sun and then shade throughout the afternoon and evening.

Grant, do you have any suggestions on good container potting soil? As far as "test driving", I definitely want to baby step into it so I can do things right. My boyfriend and I both like vincas and lantanas but the moss rose we want the most out of our short list of options. What are your opinions on moss rose for someone in my situation?

Pagancat, I grew up here and agree that this environment is a harsh one so I don't expect this to come to me easily but it's something I have always admired in other people and have wanted to do for a long time.

Thank you all for your time and help!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 5:40PM
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grant_in_arizona(USDA Z9 Scottsdale AZ)

I like Miracle Grow's container potting mix or ProMix potting soil (purchased at Baker Nursery in Central Phoenix). Both are great. I mix one part of either one with one part of perlite to make a nice fast-draining mix (yes, even in containers, yes, even here, LOL). Portulaca ("moss rose") is good for this climate as a summer annual, and does like sun. It, vincas, and lantanas would be good, instant gratification plants for you until the weather cools off.

Let us know what you select and how it works out. Happy gardening and do post often. :)

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 8:31PM
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Thank you, Grant! I am just waiting for our HOA to approve my containers before I can start. Yep. They have to authorize everything..cross your fingers for us, some of the folks here are uptight about just about everything. Either way, I'll post pictures when I have it all set up.

In the meantime, if you or anyone else can think of any other suggestions, please let me know. I'm always open to tips :D

Cheers and happy gardening!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 8:51PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

At least you're on the right (east) side of the building, imho. Can you tell us what containers you have - if you've already purchased them - and what size? Ceramic pots are beautiful, but heat up in the sun. As far as potting soil goes, you can buy MG Organic potting soil at Big Lots for much less than at a nursery. Good luck with the HOA; I hope all goes well.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 11:38PM
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Tomato, I haven't purchased any yet but like the look and idea of the Greenbo railing planter (link attached below), I believe they're 12" tall 11.5" diameter. Eventually, I would like to have 3 of them: one with the moss rose, one with vinca, and one with something like the claret cup cactus or maybe small aloe plants and other succulents. I dunno, I'm still a little clueless! I haven't committed to any containers or plants just yet so if you have ideas let me know. I just really like that they'll still give us space on the patio and they look nice :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Greenbo Planters

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 11:50PM
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tomatofreak(Z9 Phx USA)

I have seen those. They look interesting, but I have no experience with them at all. The downside I see is that if you need to move the plant to a shadier spot, it might be difficult to lift off the railing.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2012 at 11:51AM
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