I'm relatively new to container gardening and I guess I have lots of questions so I can try to avoid killing everything like I did last year.
I live in Los Angeles (which I'm told is zone 9-11) and bought all my supplies at Home Depot (my first mistake). I bought some terracotta pots and planted geraniums, kangaroo paw, and a jalapeno plant. The geraniums did pretty well actually but since I have a cement yard I noticed when I picked up the plants there were these little tiny bugs hiding under the pot. I figured they were something awful and those were invading/killing my plants.
Later on in the season my pots started to grow this white stuff on the outside near the base, which I figure is some sort of fungus.
I finally figured out this year the reason my jalapeno and kangaroo paw didn't go anywhere was due to the pots being too small. Also because of the climate here, leaving the pots direct on the cement ground probably fried the poor things. This is the only location on our house that gets good direct sunlight all day since it faces South South East.
At one point I did raise my geraniums onto a rack of sorts (it's like a mini-baker's rack) but they just died off a horrid ugly death.
I used a Miracle-Gro potting soil which said it was good for both flowers and veggies, then later as everything got uglier and uglier I started to use some Miracle-Gro food (I followed the packaging instructions), it was no use.
I watered every other day (with and without the Miracle Gro) when the temps were in the 60-89 range then bumped to every day when it got really hot like 90-100.
So I guess I just need some suggestions on kinda everything. This year I really want to grow a tomato plant and try the jalapenos again. I'm definitely going to a local nursery for these plants, but I'm curious about a good potting soil mix and how to prep and keep my pots off the ground (my rack will not support the weight of a large pot, it's not big enough). I think a friend told me not to use those saucer type base pieces for my pots because they can collect water and cause fungus? Also can anyone recommend a good type of pot if terracotta isn't good? Especially with that white stuff that grew on them.
And the last thing, since I work and I'm gone from the house from 7am to 6pm, is the direct sunlight going to kill my plants? Since most of the plants I chose said "direct sunlight" I figured they'd be ok, but they seemed to wilt pretty bad with the high heat. I don't really have an area of my house that isn't either full sun or full shade so I'm worried I'll bake the poor things all over again. Or with a larger container does this pretty much resolve that? (my original containers I think were 7 or 9 inches in diameter - so if I go up to like 17 inches will that make a big difference?)
I guess to me it seems too vague on the plant label when it says full sun, partial sun or shade...
Any-hoo any advice would be great...
Sorry this is sooooo long!