hydration (now heat)

ConroeJoe@aol.com ConroeJoe@aol.com
Sat, 01 Jan 2005 11:01:12 PST
In a message dated 1/1/2005 11:02:11 AM Central Standard Time, pbs-Susan 
Hayek <susanann@sbcglobal.net> writes:

> read the suggestions somewhere in an 
> English garden publication to line the insides of terra cotta pots 
> with bubble wrap. Just the sides, of course, not the very bottom. I 
> have been doing this in all my larger pots, terra cotta, wood, etc. 


The bubble wrap is an interesting idea and if it works then more power to it. 

Here, with our mild winters and brutal summers, I've not had occasion to 
worry about root damage from cold.  However, I sure have problems with roots 
getting too hot in potted plants.   I do my best to shade the sides of containers 
(yes, I have a zillion container plants).  Often I set them in front of each 
other, or behind a shrub, etc.  Black plastic pots are the worst for 
overheating, and it sure seems to slow plant growth.  

For large pots (10 gallon or larger) I try to plant a groundcover on the soil 
surface, something that will eventually cascade over the side of the pot.  It 
not only looks good, but the right groundcovers provide excellent shade for 
the soil surface and the sides of the pot.  

Mostly, I try to put large pots of cacti and succulents in front of other 
pots, and use ground covers for the cacti and succulents.   A few small Sedum 
species are great for this, not minding drought or flood, and some Delosperma 
species too.  I'm growing a few more South African trailing succulents to see if 
they will work (Ruschia, etc.).  Another good ground cover is the desert 
Dichondra species (D. argentea), a very pretty plant and not the least bit 
invasive--the silver cascade is beautiful.  Some varieties of creeping thyme are great 
too.  I also have one native sedge (C. texensis ?) that makes a perfect lawn 
on the tops of large pots--it doesn't cascade but it sure does shade the 
surface well--it grows sideways to cover the surface and is a pretty green carpet 
about 2 inches tall.  

In large enough pots, the creeping plants are also water indicators--they let 
me know when to water the major plant; when the little ones get that "water 
me" look, I know it is time to water large containers--if not sooner.    

I can even plant some bulbs in the containers of succulents and cacti (large 
containers) as long as the creeping plants help keep the soil temperatures 
low--of course they have to be very tolerant bulbs (rain lilies, Lycoris types, 
oxblood lilies, etc.).  

Anyway, with the big pots on the south facing side (these are typically cacti 
or agaves), I can set up an array of potted bulbs, each shaded a bit by the 
pot in front.  With the sides mostly shaded, I put 2 inches or more of mulch on 
the top of bulb pots to shade the soil surfaces (or use more creeping 

The difference can be dramatic--bulbs that get minimal shade for their roots 
often grow slowly, can be chlorotic or stunted, and may not bloom as well as 
their protected counterparts.  


Conroe Joe
Weather is mild and humid this week, ca. 75 F in the day and 62 F at night.  
The winter-growing bulbs really seem to like these temperatures.  

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