Welcome to my free ebook, Blooming Pots. Since you purchased Riley’s Garden Oasis, I thought you would find it helpful to have a few sure-fire recipes for seasonal pots.  

I believe in the age-old adage of teaching someone to fish rather than simply giving them a fish. My recipes serve as a stepping stone, guiding you on a path of learning and discovery to create unique designs for yourself. By sharing my proven recipes, I aim to inspire your creativity and provide you with the tools and knowledge to design your own captivating oasis.  

As you delve into the world of desert container gardening, I encourage you to experiment, adapt, and personalize the recipes. I would like you to develop your own style as you grow your confidence and create additional designs that reflect your unique vision and taste.  


Basic Design Guide

Number of Plants per Pot

Long ago I streamlined my designing process by determining the average number of plants I would use, based on the size of the pot. 

There are six pot sizes on the following chart. However, I recommend you use pots at least 20” wide in the desert full sun. Bigger is always better.  

Use these numbers when you plan and shop for your plants. Adjust the numbers based on the size of the plants you are buying. Additionally, if you know a plant grows very wide, like Ornamental Kale, use fewer plants for this pot.  

Two Design Patterns

I generally use two approaches to designing potted gardens. Back to front and Center.   

Back to Front is used when the pot is against a wall, pillars, or other fixed object. The pot is seen from the front and sides.  

In the Center design, you arrange the plants as you would a bouquet of flowers to place on a dining room table so all sitting around the table see the lovely arrangement.  This type of pot positioning might be seen from the house, patio and further pool. It is seen from all sides.  

The difference in your designs starts with the placement of the tall plant(s.) The Back to Front design will have the tall plants in the back while the Center design will place the tall plant(s) in the center. 

Here are the design guides for these two designs.



You can mix this up as you develop your own style. I lean heavily towards symmetrical designs, and you will see that in most of my pots. It doesn’t have to be that way, as illustrated by this Summer Bouquet pot and accompanying design guide, I’ve named the Circus Design.


You can read my guide on Seasons in the Desert can be found at this LINK.

Your Free Designs

Easy-Care Winter

This winter desert pot design is labeled as an easy-care combination because it has three characteristics. 

The potted garden image provides you with the plant list and sun requirements.
Low desert regions may need to place this pot in areas with less summer sun than mentioned here.

“Leave-In PerennialThe vine, Star Jasmine can remain in this pot for year’s, saving you money and time when you don’t have to replace it each season. 

“Many Options Color”You can use any seasonal annual in the center section. I suggest plants that range from 6” – 12” 

“EZ-Care Trailers”The third plant is a trailing flower. Both of these options require no deadheading. How easy is that?! Here I have used Alyssum for the desert’s winter. A summer EZ-Care annual might be Scaevola. 

All flowers in these pots require
consistent watering to maintain a moist environment.

Winter Pink Design

Pink Snapdragons and Purple & Hot Pink Petunias

This design lends itself to many variations, for all seasons. This pink and purple arrangement pictured below is a successful planting for the fall shoulder season that can last through winter. In the right conditions it can live through the summer and start increasing its blooms as we move back into the fall.

Shoulder Season in the Spring

As soon as nighttime temperatures start hitting the 50s, you can look for Osteospermums (African Daisies) in the nurseries. This pot is planted with the Center design but translates easily, back to front.  

It is filled with yellow and white “Osteos” and we’ve kept the healthy Golden Euonymus in the pot. Since the Osteos will not last through the summer, other shoulder season plants, like Snapdragons, Petunias or Dianthus that are doing well, can stay in the pot and you adjust your plant numbers accordingly.  

Raised bed of snapdragons

Easy-Care Summer, Monsoon Madness, and the Fall Shoulder Season

Now you’re hopefully getting the hang of this. I’ve grouped Summer, Monsoon, and the Fall Shoulder Season together because if you do a good job of planning, planting and caring for your summer container garden, you won’t have to worry about the heat or monsoon. Or at least, not as much.  

Honestly, these pots lasted from when they were first planted in early May and were not changed out until November.  

The keys to this proclaimed success are: 

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    24” pots or larger (These pictured are 32” pots) 

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    Sun-loving plants

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    Fully planted pots that provide shade over the potting mix and each other.

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    A dedicated pot line is preferred providing consistent, thorough watering

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    Regular grooming (deadheading) and fertilizing

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    Jet Basting the plants as often as possible (for more information, check out this article "Desert Potted Plants Stay Healthy with this Surefire Method” 

Picture #1
4 weeks Growth

  • Silver King Euonymus  
  • White Summer Snaps (Angelonia) 
  • White Vinca (red dot) 
  • Red Vinca 
  • Out of View – Red Million Bells 

Picture #2
10 Weeks Growth

  • Same plants with 6 Weeks Growth 

Picture #3
Summer Oranges

  • Orange Canna 
  • Orange Cape Honeysuckle 
  • Orange Profusion Zinnias (R&L) 
  • White Guara 
  • Orange Million Bells trailing in the center under the Guara 

Want To Go Smaller?

I recognize I have shown you 24” and larger living pot designs. And I do strongly recommend this size for full sun, summer pots. However, the winter months are more forgiving and summer pots that only receive the morning sun do not heat up as much. Therefore, in these conditions and mostly shade pots can be in the 18”-22” width range. 

Use your chart to estimate the number of flowers you need and arrange them similarly to the Design Guides above.  Here is the Design Guide for a 20” pot.  


I hope this helps you with your pot designs. Now that you are receiving my email newsletters, I will be sharing more designs moving forward.

In the meantime, here are several ways you can learn from me:

Visit my ‘Gumroad’ store to sign up for my free Potted View eNews. While you’re there, check out my video self-study classes and other eBooks I come up with. LINK 

Join my Facebook Group, Getting Potted in the Desert

And if you don’t have my other book, Getting Potted in the Desert, consider picking up a copy now as it is a perfect companion to Riley’s Garden Oasis.

Thanks for joining our Getting Potted Community! Add my photo in the circle or signature 

And, as always, feel free to email me with your questions, comments and ideas!