I need help, please!

myjasminebaby(Houston)September 5, 2012

I am very new to gardening. I have a few potted plants that manage to survive with me, but I haven't really had the opportunity to get into gardening.

I live in very hot North Houston. I rent, but this place is so plain that it's boring me. I don't want to invest a ton of money. I would *love* to have a vegetable garden, but we are right next to a nature center/park that is full of animals. Our main pests are raccoons. I can't even keep them out of my trash, I know they will eat any food out there. But i would like to have flowers...espeically flowers to cut so I can put them in vases around the house throughout the year.

So, I need help figuring out what will survive the excrutiating heat,possible freeze during the winter, which ones to plant so I will have fresh flowers to cut almost all year, with not a whole lot of money. Is that too much to ask? LOL the front of my home is facing west, so it seems for most of the day, the front and back yard is full sun.

Do I plant from seeds, or do I get already potted plants from a nursery/Lowes?

Thanks for any help!

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The main enemy of potted plants in Houston (I'm down in Clear Lake) is the intense sun.. it bakes the roots, especially in plastic pots. So if you can invest in large clay pots, it's a really good idea. You can get them for half off starting in a couple weeks at Garden Ridge.

Even better for the heat and your plants are fabric pots (some brand names are Smart Pots, Root Pots, Camo Pots). If you can sew, buy some felt from the fabric store and make your own. Most people just don't like the look of these pots, which is understandable if aesthetics is the major concern.

If your budget is an issue, lean toward flowers you can grow from seed. Here are some of the very easy ones that make good cut flowers -

Zinnias: Foolproof from seed and fast growing, every color you could want, bloom as long as the weather is warm. These will die each winter. Cuts well.

Dwarf Sunflowers: Stick with the smallest varieties of sunflowers if you're planting in containers. Easy from seed, but obviously will only work while its warm.

Gomphrena - Relative of amaranth, easy from seed, flowers seem to last forever. Dies in the winter.

Echinacea - Coneflower, easy from seed, dies in the winter.

Pentas - Love the heat, but moderately hard to grow from seed. You can always buy transplants. Usually die in the winter.

Gerbera daisy - Buy transplants, because this is impossible from seed. You can plant this right now! Should easily survive the winter and do great in containers. Does fantastically in the fall.

Coleus, Salvias, Basils - These closely related plants are all great in containers and so easy from seed. With few exceptions, they will worship the sun. Allow thai basil, purple ruffles, and african blue basil to bloom and they'll provide beautiful, if non-traditional, cut flowers. Dies in the winter.

Celosia - Easy from seed, loves the heat, dies in the winter

Cosmos - Very easy from seed, tall varieties great for cutting, dies in the winter

For fall:

Nasturtiums - unconventional cut flower, but beautiful nonetheless

Dwarf Goldenrod

Calendula (Pot marigold)

Poppies - won't tolerate heat at all.

Do yourself a favor and buy your seed online, looking for varieties that are best for containers and for cut flowers. It'll end up cheaper and you'll get exactly what you want.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 5:56PM
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roselee z8b S.W. Texas

Greentiger, those are great plant suggestions!

It came to me if you really don't want to spend much money you can plant either seeds or little plants directly into bags of potting soil laid on the ground. Once the plants are up and growing the bags won't show and they will also shade the soil keeping it cooler. If the plants need a little afternoon shade stick a beach umbrella in the middle and it will look very festive.

Here is a link that might be useful: Google links to planting directly in bags of potting soil ...

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 6:40PM
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tx_ag_95(7/8 Lewisville)

Honestly, I'd go ahead and try growing the veggies in large pots. They should be tall enough to keep the critters from causing problems. If that doesn't work, you could build a raised bed for the veggies and use a roll of "chicken wire" or "hardware cloth" to encase the perimeter, to keep out the critters. It would take a bit of math to figure out the size of a bed that the roll of chicken wire/hardware cloth would encompass, but it would be worth it.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 11:15PM
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Houston Garden Centers have their 70% off sale right now, head over there, buy the plants growing out in the full sun on the pavement, they will live in your conditions.

I`d suggest a couple of fruit trees, they are around $7-10 each right now, that will give you some blooms in the spring, shade and fruit in the fall.
Then some zinnia, great cut flower, tolerate the heat and humidity
coleus will make it through most of winter and is colorful
Mexican heather, not great for cut flowers but great color in the yard
They have cone flowers, pentas, etc. all 70% off right now.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:18AM
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So much great info! Thank you so much!!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 3:24PM
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Come to the Mercer swap, October 6
Tally Ho!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 2:46PM
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