A Super Simple Winter Desert Container Design

Plant your desert pots with the KISS method

Keep It Super Simple!

Orange Calendula Blossom

Our center stage of this KISS pot is Calendula. You already have a Calendula plant description article in your premium content folders. Here is the LINK, so you don’t have to go searching. https://potteddesert.com/calendula/

I chose Calendula for this KISS design because it will allow you to practice your deadheading technique. Its growth habit is loose enough to watch it grow and see new growth shoots when you do deadhead. Calendula is also fairly hardy during our cold spells. Yes, it needs to be covered when we have a freeze warning, but it will keep flowering during cooler weeks.

Thrillers and Chillers without any Spiller

When we talk about pot designs, we typically work in heights. We have our stature or tall plants – our Thrillers, followed by the medium-height plants – the Chillers. Normally, we would add a trailing plant, aka Spiller, but we will leave that out in our KISS design.

The Calendula leaves continue to grow at the plant’s base and maintain the fullness of rich, deep green, just at the rim level of the pot. This also will shade the soil, helping to keep the moisture in.

Pot #1 – Calendula and Snapdragons

You only need two kinds of plants for this pot—Burgundy Snapdragons in a tall variety and Orange Calendula.

Pot Plant Quantity Guide

As shown in my Guide to Plant Quantity by Pot Size, you will see the total number of plants I recommend by pot size. I imagine most of you will want to try this design in a pot ranging between 18 and 23 inches; you will need about 11 plants. If your pot is on the smaller end of this range, say 18″, I would recommend nine plants.

In the illustration below, I have placed four burgundy snapdragons on the backside of the pot. Then, five orange calendula are placed on the front half. Once you remove the 4-inch plants from their nursery containers and open up the plant, you will be leaving enough room between the plants for growth and air circulation.

Planting plan for 18" pot

Here is an example of this arrangement of plants, well grown in our winter climate.

Simple winter desert container garden pot with orange calendula and burgundy snaps by The Potted Desert

Now, if you really need some added color, consider the deep blue Lobelia. You see the contrast in these with the orange Calendula, which I feel is rather striking.

Pot #2 – Calendula, Cordyline, and Ornamental Kale

In this design, the thriller or tall plant is a winter perennial, Cordyline. The Thriller is the Calendula. Ornamental Kale is the Chiller.

We know Kale gets very large through the season so that I would reduce the total plants to six. One Cordyline, three yellow Calendula, and two Kale.

The Design changes to this:

Planting plan for 18" pot

And here is a pot with this design:

Simple Winter Pot with Kale and Calendula The Potted Desert


These plants need consistent watering but on the medium side, not heavily wet. Follow my regular fertilizing instructions, both when you plant the pot and then every two weeks after seeing new growth. Cover when temps are predicted to be 32° or lower.

These designs should last you into the hot season. Kale will be the first to react to the heat. It will send out its flower stalk, known as bolting.