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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Friday - July 26, 2013

From: La Quinta, CA
Region: California
Topic: Non-Natives, Container Gardens
Title: Plants for a nursing home resident from LaQuinta CA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I take care of an elderly woman with dementia. She is in a nursing home and she's always LOVES flowers and plants. Do you have any suggestions for potted outdoor blooming plants for the summer in Palm Desert that I might find at a home improvement nursery? She spends sometime sitting outdoors and I want her to be surrounded by potted plants that reflect life and color. ALSO, her room is kept dark and cool and an idea for something indoor that blooms or is lovely would be quite appreciated! Thanks for any advice you can give!

ANSWER:

We are not sure how much we can help you, but this is a lovely idea and we will certainly try. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which those plants grow natively; in your case, Riverside County, CA. Of course, because these will all be in containers, the native soils, even rainfall and climate won't make as much difference. In truth, very few native plants will be able to withstand indoor gardening conditions, and probably wouldnd't bloom long enough to really be of much help. And if you are planning to shop in an home improvement store, you will find a lot of containerized plants, some blooming, some with colorful foliage, but we can almost guarantee they won't be native. So, our knowledge of the plants you are interested in obtaining is very nearly zilch.

We will, however, be able to give you some help with preparing plants for your client to enjoy. Follow these two links for information that will apply to non-native plants as well as natives:

How-to Article Container Gardening with Native Plants

Video presentation on how to plant in containers from the Wildflower Center.

If you wish to purchase some blooming plants for outdoors, you much first determine what their environment will be. We consider "full sun" to be 6 or more hours of sun a day, "part shade" 2 to 6 hours of sun and "shade" less than 2 hours of sun. Since you live in a very hot area, the amount of sun plants can take, especially in containers, must be carefully considered. In a black plastic pot, in long hours of full sun, the roots of containerized plants can almost literally "fry," especially standing on a hot concrete porch or deck. On the other hand, few blooming plants can get along without at least some sunlight.

From this HGTV website, Houseplants, you can find lots of pictures and suggestions and, if you purchase a plant from the home improvement store, you can use the "Search" box at the top of the webpage to type in the name of the plant from the label and find out growing conditions, including light and water needs.

We agree that it is very important for someone in that condition to have pleasant outside stimulation, color and form in their lives, and what better way than from plants?

 

 

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