Indicator plants are species plants used by gardeners in the recording of phenology observations. The information gathered is worth recording in a diary or journal.
But what here I loosely refer to as indicator plants are those which I strategically place in several locations throughout my new low desert garden, to give me a sense of microclimates I may take advantage of. Sometimes I will place several of the same variety to learn what will thrive, not merely survive, where.
Take for instance the sweet alyssum Snow Princess, I was in awe at the end of February,while the weather was cooler, but warm in my estimation, I planted it in a hanging basket. It was full of white clusters, sat in full afternoon sun, planted with Osmocote fertilizer and was watered every-other day.
Then the spell of 100 degree days hit in April and we set up a patio umbrella to shade us from the hot afternoon sun. These changes altered the full sun and shady parts of the yard. Never mind that full sun in the low desert is like being on another planet, not like the full sun in Ohio or Wisconsin.
I moved the hanging basket to a dappled sun/shadier spot. Now, in the 90 and 100 degree days routinely, the plant wilts without daily watering to which a diluted strength liquid fertilizer is added every two weeks.
While I could go out and buy replacement plants for this basket, my challenge is to see if I can grow this sweet alyssum through the summer. Yes, the flowers are not as robust. But come September, as the temperatures cool, I am wondering what this very tough Snow Princess will look like as I stay gardening.