Category Archives: Potted Desert Blog

Ahhh – October in your Potted Desert Garden

Hanging Baskets, Pots and Beds Create a Living Dividerin a Desert Potted Garden

If you have not realized it by now, I love potted desert gardens. They are so versatile in there uses, flexible in their placement and plantings and the bottom line – you don’t have to dig in the ground!!… Marylee Pangman, Potted Desert Expert

Stay on top of your garden tasks to keep your potted desert garden thriving 365 days a year with October’s list!

October's Potted Desert Garden Checklist


Don’t Build Walls – Create outdoor ‘rooms’ with potted desert gardens

Many patios are like bowling alleys. Many yards have no delineated areas. Some homeowners will build ramadas, patios, gazeboes and outdoor kitchens. All of these add to the hardscape of your property and in our desert homes – the HEAT!! 

I came to the realization years ago that you can create magic out of these scenarios with pots.  

The Walkway to a Secluded Side Yard Patio at a Desert Home

In my first Tucson home, we had a long walkway down the side of the house to the backyard. Not wanting to waste any space and shaded by the neighbor’s oleanders, we created sitting areas down this path and separated it with a trellis (made out of concrete reinforcing metal screening) and pots with vines (including a Tombstone Rose, Jasmine, and Tangerine Beauty CrossVine) that grew up the angled trellis.

Large Planters create a barrier at a Tucson restaurant patio

One of my restaurant client’s patio faced a parking lot. We created side by side concrete planters filled with Robelini Palms and Mexican Lime trees, underplanted with cascading flowers and herbs – to be used by the chef. 

Eding a Driveway with more than a railing

Red Geraniums accompanied by grey Dusty Miller and Red Yucca make this an easy care driveway screen

Above is a cool idea of a roundabout driveway that has a drop off if you don’t make the corner! The contractor put up a standard double railing to warn the drivers, but it looked pretty industrial. The planters are 48” wireframe hayracks with coco-fiber liners. Then we welded on decorative braces to assist in the planters’ stability. 

So you see, there are a myriad of ways you can use pots to serve as a function in your home. They allow you to work with a smaller budget and to have tremendous flexibility as we gardeners change our minds – as we tend to do.  🙂

Happy Potting!

Marylee


 Before you go shopping for your winter flowers,

Follow this Link

 

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4 Ways to Prepare for Cooler Temperatures in Your Desert Garden

Late Summer Potted Garden with Crepe Myrtle

September brings more mornings with temperatures in the low seventies and a nice breeze to your desert garden. What a relief! This always entices me to do some work outside – not only in the garden but also in my swinging hammock chair on my iPad. Nice!!!

On one of these mornings, I thought about how we really don’t use our desert patios as much as we could. I think we get so caught up in the heat and “It’s just too hot!” and then the winter cold which does happen now and then. We don’t have a habit developed to go out and just be.

I created this list of ideas as your temperatures allow you to venture outside, at least in the early morning hours:

Cozy Nook to enjoy a cup of teaIdea #1: Drink your morning beverage outside and contemplate even cooler days to come. What are your plans? Is there anything different you want to do in your pots this winter?

How about an “at home” holiday?

Don’t have a place that is comfy and cozy to do this? Take a weekend to relax, turn off the phones, spend time in the pool or curl up with a good book – what you might do if you were at a resort. With a little imagination, creativity and a couple of comfortable chairs, you can create a wonderful cozy seating area without bricks and mortar to enjoy on your ‘staycation.”

But before you go outside, get some healthy air inside! This is Idea #2. There are many reasons to open the windows – first and foremost – it feels and smells good!! Here are some other reasons to get those windows open!

  • It will help rid your home of toxic fumes.
  • It’s free – turn off your air conditioning for a couple hours and let your home soak up those cool breezes.
  • Your indoor plants will love you for it!
  • You will hear the birds and other sounds of nature.
  • Experts say that opening windows will improve your overall health.

And while we are talking about feeling good, consider Idea #3

Messy Patio with out of date potsReducing some of the clutter that might have accumulated in your yard over the past year(s). If you are not using some pots – donate them to a community or school garden. Old soil and fertilizer, broken tools, things you have collected over time and are tired of or you just don’t want/need them anymore – find new homes for them by donating them and toss what is of no value. I promise you that if you clean out the clutter, it will have many of the same effects as opening your windows!

Finally. Idea #4 – consider adding a new accent pot or piece of art to your favorite area. A new, cooler season might inspire you to treat yourself to something bright and cheery.Accent Pot

Trust me – it will continue to cool down so that you want to spend more time outside. Now is the time to dream a little and make some fun decisions about what’s next for your garden.


Additional Tips for Your September Desert Garden

Capture Rainwater-

And use it to water plants under your covered areas. Micro nutrients in the rain are great for potted plants!

Speaking of rain, too often desert homeowners make the mistake in thinking that a monsoon storm means they can cut back on irrigation or hand watering for their pots, gardens and other plants.

Desert Rain – Points to consider:

  1. It has to rain at least one (1) inch in order to saturate the root ball of your plants (get yourself a rain gauge so you know how much rain your yard has received)
  2. Pots under a Ramada, tree or overhang do not receive enough. if any rain.
  3. A deep soaking rain (more than 1 inch) received over a long time period (several hours) will only replace one day’s worth of pot watering.
  4. Pots in full sun with flowers and other ‘soft’ plants are accustomed to daily watering.
  5. A missed watering can cause your plants to get stressed and this invites problems including pest invasion and disease.
  6. If you have not received much rain, water your potted cacti/succulents now ~ Deeply!

What to Plant when your pots are just ugly:

Nurseries will have a fresh selection of annuals to replace those that have petered out. Zinnias, Marigolds, Vinca, and even Snapdragons, Dianthus and Petunias are all good choices that will carry your through October and the later three, all the way through winter with the right care.


Rose September Cut Back: 

This applies to all Hybrid Teas, Mini’s and Floribunda’s.

  1. Remove the top 1/3 of your roses and dead canes
  2. Selectively prune your climbers doing a lesser cut back.
  3. Clean up all the dead/fallen leaves, old mulch and debris.
  4. Reapply bark mulch around the roses.

Fertilize Citrus: 

  1. Check to see if you have fertilizer for your citrus trees.
  2. Fertilize citrus according to the instructions on the package this month.
  3. Water in deeply.
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Hot Container Garden – Plant of the Month “Silver King”

“Silver King” can take any role in your summer desert pots 

To best survive the summer furnace in your desert container garden, I harp about the size of our desert garden pots. To support our illustrious hot garden plant of the month, your pot should be at least 24” wide. This width and similar depth will provide the structural support as well as insulation of the soil volume and subsequently, the root system of the plant.

To substantially fill this size pot, especially in the summer, I recommend looking at the Box Leaf family of Euonymus and this month, specifically, the Silver King Euonymus 

Silver Leaf CloseupThe ‘Silver King’ has eye-catching, silvery white edges with glossy green leaves that add uniquecolor and texture to your landscape.   

Variegated forms of the Box Leaf family are the most popular and are among the few shrubs to maintain their variegated leaf color in full sun in our hot summer climates.  The silver tones mix easily with other desert landscape plant materials and add a unique color and texture to your garden. The plant can serve as a stand-alone focal point or be surrounded by almost any contrasting color for instant beauty. With its upright growth habit, several pots can be grouped to form a low screen as demonstrated in this illustration photo with the “Silver King’ supported

 

Note in this illustration, that I also represented three pots of the ‘Silver King’ to demonstrate the screening ability of the plant.  These are underplanted with ‘Pacifica’ Vinca.

The theme for this summer is working your designs in odd numbers

– Hence a combination of three. If you were to pull the three pots apart, you could still maintain the odd number by having a single pot, splitting the pots in a group of two with a separation of the third, or group the three loosely. They do not all have to be planted the same, and probably should not be. We would not want our “King” to get bored with his royal court now, would we? 

Potted with Strawberry Fields Gomphrena, Deep Red Pentas, Red ‘Pacifica’ Vinca, and Orange ‘Profustion’ Zinnia.

Care of the ‘Silver King’ 

Tolerating any region with a dry summer heat is a challenge to all living things, but for your potted desert gardens, the Box Leaf shrubs (Euonymus) are a good bet. The plants will enjoy good potting soil but tolerate less rich soils and moderate watering. Since the shrub is easily pruned, it can serve as an excellent topiary specimen and if it has a solid center trunk, can be shaped up into a small tree over a couple of years.  

When you visit your nursery to select your plant, compare the size of a one-gallon plant versus a five-gallon plant in size. Be sure whichever you choose is well rooted. You should be able to see a few roots through the holes in the can. I suggest since they are not super-fast growers, you select the size that will give you satisfaction now!  

  1. Take the plant home and water it in well (so that water comes out through the holes in the can.) Prepare your pot by placing it its permanent location.  
  2. Fill your pot after covering the drainage hole with screening or a folded coffee filter. Bring the soil level up to about half way and then compress the soil.  
  3. Add a large handful of time-release fertilizer to the soil. Leave a cavity to place the root ball. 
  4. Carefully remove the plant from the can by turning it on its side, compress the can to loosen the root ball and then gently urge the entire plant out from the can being cautious to not tear the stems from the roots. 
  5. Loosen the root ball’s mass by opening it with your hands or a small trowel. You do not need to be overly cautious at this point. 
  6. Place the plant into the pot and add soil, making sure the result will place the top of the plant’s root ball about 2” below the top of the pot. 
  7. Add more soil and continue to pack it in around the root ball. Bring the new soil level up even with the top of the plant’s root ball. Do not bury the root ball under the new soil. Pack the entire mass firmly and water in thoroughly. 
  8. Be sure your newly planted shrub does not dry out. During the first two weeks, you may need to water daily and then, depending on sun exposure, heat levels, and wind, you might be able to drop back to every other day. 

Prune shrubs in spring after flowering (inconsequential) to maintain the desired shape and to remove green shoots that will sometimes pop up in this variegated variety. The proper way is to remove ¼ to 1/3 of the shrub each time it is pruned, forcing new growth to come from old wood deeper inside the canopy of the shrub.  This rejuvenates the shrub, adds more new growth to the canopy and keeps it young and vigorous.  

One of the main issues with this Euonymus is their tendency towards powdery mildew. Although it is less likely in the dry desert, reduce the chance by choosing a morning to mid-afternoon sun location with good air circulation and water the plant in the morning.  

Happy Potting!  …Marylee

 

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Why the Number 3 is Perfect for Desert Container Gardens

 

Does your designer often specify grouping objects in three’s even in your desert container gardens?  

Do you ever ask yourself why?  

It really comes down to our brain. We like to pair things up. When we look at a several items, we rationally try to put them together in two’s. When we create a group of three, the eye is trying to find the pair so it keeps moving. This movement creates a flow and continual motion of our designs. Hence in a garden where our ‘art’ is living and breathing, we want to enhance that movement. Creating an odd number of pots in a group does the trick! 

Two Pots Can Create a formal look at an entry to your home

Pots Have Their Place in your Desert Container Gardens

If we want a more formal or contemporary look, we will want to design in a symmetrical fashion. Even numbers, arranged as pairs will form the structure that comes across more strongly. Two pots placed on opposite sides of a front gate or entry will create the intent that you want of your guest focusing on the entrance rather than passing it by. 

How does the odd number of pots help in our desert landscape design? Long walls and square pots add to the linear look of a back yard wall.

These pots to the left are filled with a single Yellow Daisy Bush (Euryops) and Red Geraniums. The planting is very mature. The Daisy was planted in the fall and the geraniums in the early spring in Oro Valley Arizona. The Geraniums will ‘peter’ out in the heat of the summer and be replaced with true summer annual flowers. ~ Marylee

Two Pots Are out

Where 2 Does Not Cut It

These two pots obviously are just not right against this wall. They stop us dead in our tracks. By adding a third pot—round in shape—and twisting the squares to change the angles, the result is much more appealing. Now you see the garden rather than the wall. 

Your First Step 

When you are ready to redesign an area and want to decide about adding some pots, place some large objects out where you think you might like to position the pots. Trash cans, propane tanks and buckets will serve you well without breaking your back to get an idea of what you like. Once you think you have it, go pot shopping with my mantra –‘ bigger is better!’  If your pots are going to be in full desert summer sun, choose pots that are at least 22” in diameter. These pots are larger than they appear on this long wall. The homeowner is just getting started with a desert container garden and wanted to start small. My Motto is you can always add more!

3 Pots break up the long wall

3 Pots break up the long wall

Same Pots after 3 weeks of growing

Same Pots 3 Weeks Later

 

 

 

 

 

 

The larger pots of this trio have pale yellow Petunias, a dot of red from a Pacifica Vinca and chartreuse Sweet Potato Vine. The shorter pot has red and white Vinca, purple Summer Snaps (Angelonia and Convolvulus (a type of Morning Glory) trailing in the front. This was planted in the late summer when flower choices become more difficult in the desert heat. However, all the plants will do well through the fall until temperatures go below 45. The Sweet Potato Vine will be the first to succumb to the cold. ~ Marylee

 

 

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May Tips for a Successful Potted Garden

Windy City – No Not Chicago

     Tips to safeguard your HOT Potted Garden 

I love watching wind farms! There is something graceful and mesmerizing about them. They are indicative of the strong winds we consistently have in our communities. As weather systems come through bringing high winds, we find those areas of our homes that create a wind tunnel threatening our potted garden.

 

3 Ways to protect your pots from the winds tipping factor.

  1. A pot with a broad base is your best solution to pots blowing over in our high winds. Place vase-shaped containers in protected patio corners or near a protected front door. The pot pictures to the left is not safe in windy areas!
  2. Plant tall plants in well ‘seated’ pots. Pots, as described in #1 above are your best solution to any tree form, tall shrubs or grasses. Thick canopies of these types of plants will act as a sail in strong winds, so they are best suited to ‘grounded pots.”  This pot is 32″ wide with a broad base.
  3. If high winds are in the forecast, water your pots in well. The added water weight will give your pot much more ballast when challenged by windy conditions.

Worry-Free Summer Desert Pot Design – Just add water

Looking for a gorgeous, colorful flower pot for the long summer? Plant a healthy combination of heat-loving plants and enjoy it all summer long.

Here is a grouping that will stand up to a full summer of heat. The 28” pot pictured above shows off with overflowing Vinca in red and white, White Summer Snaps (Angelonia) with a Silver Queen Euonymus shrub planted as a permanent structure in the center of the pot.

If you one side of the pot faces east or north making it a little cooler, you can add a Million Bells (Calibrachoa) that as shown on the bottom right of the picture as a trailing plant. If you know your summers are scorching with weeks of 110+ degrees, they may be best suited to fall seasons or higher elevations.

This combination is simple to care for because it does not need much deadheading. The Vinca blooms will fall off on their own. A little pruning of the Summer Snaps encourages them to grow to their full maturation in monsoon season.

Above is another picture of the same planting from the opposite side giving you a good view of the Summer Snaps and Silver Queen.


Roses – Not to Worry

It’s getting hot, but it can be sweltering if you’re a rose bush.  Although roses grow beautifully in the desert, this heat takes its toll.  Don’t expect your roses to bloom in the middle of the summer and remember to cut the amount of fertilizer in half from June through August.  This practice allows your rose bushes to rest during the heat of the summer.

Here are a few hints to maintain beautiful rose plants over the next few months:

  • Water, water, water!!! Be sure the water gets down to the roots.  If possible, submerge the container in a bucket of water to saturate the soil. Once well-watered return the container to its original location.
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch!!!  Mulching with an organic mulch like straw, compost, chipped bark, western ground cedar, or pine needles helps keep the soil cool and retain moisture.
  • Use the hose on the gentle or mist spray nozzle setting to sprinkle your plants several times a day for added moisture and insect control.
  • Do not prune the leaves.  The leaves help shade the canes and hold moisture. Pack rats have been known to eat the new growth on your bushes, if this is the case, contact a pest control company.  Always remember to deadhead when necessary.
  • You might like to try shade cloth during the worst heat of the day.  The fabric keeps the sun off, the heat down, and the humidity up.

In September return to your regular amount of fertilizer and continue applying these nutrients until November.

Once the monsoon rains begin, your roses will respond to nature’s rain and humidity.


But September is a long ways off. Be mindful of your garden. Enjoy it in the early hours of the morning and again as the sun goes down.

If you missed your Checklist for May, you can get it here.

Thanks for reading! Happy Potting!

Marylee

 

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Five Tips for a Worry-Free Summer in your Desert Pots

We have had a hot start to the southwest U.S. desert this spring. Many of you might be saying, “What spring?” The entire southwest has been running 10 degrees above normal jumping us into an early period of the 90’s. I have heard too many people already complaining about the heat.

However, May is a good time to get your summer pots in good shape before the real saturating heat starts. Here are some tips to guide you along your way. Think about these this month before the intensity keeps you indoors.

It’s not too late you know – to plant your summer pots!

You can still plant summer flowers, shrubs, cactus and succulents this month. If there is an area that remains a blank slate, consider getting right out there with a few new jumbo-sized pots and some well-started summer plants. This one fix will make a major difference in your landscape before the intensity of the summer heat gets started. The most important things to keep in mind if you are going to create a new potted garden this month are:

  • Plant early in the morning.
  • Make sure your plants have healthy root system before purchasing.
  • Be sure your plant’s root balls are moist before planting.
  • Water the pots in fully when you finish with your planting. (except for cactus)
  • Keep a close eye on your pots the first two weeks of growth to make sure they are getting enough water.
  • You do not want your plants to dry out at all as they are getting established.
  • Once you see new growth on the plant, you know they are off to a good start and you can adjust your watering to once daily for most summer annuals.

Provide Shade Relief for Your Summer Pots

Because the desert summer sun is so intense, even your sun-loving plants prefer a little shade. Place pots under a lightly leafed tree such as a Mesquite tree for that dappled light.

Move some of your favorite pots and plantings onto the patio or entry. Relocating them to the shade and close to your living areas will provide them with the conditions they need for summer success. Furthermore, you will more likely keep an eye on them because they are close to where you see them every day.

Watering Summer Pots

As you would expect, the key to success in your hot desert pots is water; consistent, plentiful water. If you water your pots with irrigation, set it to come on about 4:00 am and water before the lines heat up in the sun.

If you are watering by hand, water as close to sunrise that you can. Both you and your pots will love you for it. Be sure the water coming out of the hose is not hot. Water pots until the water comes out of the drain hole.

Different Rules for Potted Succulents and Cacti

Water only when the soil is almost dry. I use a water meter for this to make sure I am not overwatering them. You can pick up a water meter in any of the nurseries or most big box stores.

If you do lose some plants to the heat, don’t leave the dead or dying plants in the pot. All that does is make you feel bad. It also can keep telling you to do more work and replace the plants. My motto has always been, Better Dirt Than Dead.


Like what you are reading? Get it all in your copy of “Getting Potted in the Desert”. Follow the link in the right column or below:

Copies are also available at Antigone Books and Tucson Botanical Gardens.


One more for the road: Rose Worries – Not to Worry!

It’s getting hot, but it can be exceptionally hot if you’re a rose bush.  Although roses grow beautifully in the desert, this heat takes its toll.  Don’t expect your roses to bloom in the middle of the summer, and remember to cut the amount of fertilizer in half from June through August.  This practice allows your rose bushes to rest during the heat of the summer
Here are a few hints to maintain lovely rose plants over the next few months:

  • Water, water, water!!! Be sure the water gets down to the roots.  If possible, submerge the container in a bucket of water to saturate the soil. Once well-watered return the container to its original location.
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch!!!  Mulching with an organic mulch like straw, compost, chipped bark, western ground cedar, or pine needles helps keep the soil cool and retain moisture.
  • Use the hose on the gentle spray nozzle setting to sprinkle your plants several times a day for added moisture and insect control.
  • Do not prune the leaves.  The leaves help shade the canes and hold moisture. Pack rats have been known to eat the new growth on your bushes, if this is the case, contact a pest control company.  Always remember to deadhead when necessary.
  • You might like to try shade cloth during the worst heat of the day.  The cloth keeps the sun off, the heat down, and the humidity up.
  • In September return to your regular amount of fertilizer and continue applying these nutrients until November.
  • Once the monsoon rains begin, your roses will respond to nature’s rain and humidity.

If you missed your Checklist for May, you can get it here.

Thanks for reading! Happy Potting!

Marylee

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Dramatic Seasonal Changes with Just 3 Pots… even in the desert

 

Would you believe something as simple as three pots could make a remarkable story in your desert garden?

And that you can change on a whim?
Now is a perfect time to plan for your living color garden in your hot, dry climate.
Start with just three pots and have 365 days of color.

 

Pictured here is a blank slate of a common, albeit boring fence in a desert backyard. It borders a grassy area adjacent to a rocked space that is the view from the back door and kitchen crying for the ‘right something’ to be added.

Enter – a collection of three pots and two perpetual kids playing. This combination quickly became a fun garden ‘play area’ and a view from the house and the outdoor garden room.

If you look behind the pots, there is a lower level room that will look up to the massive display of color!

This winter combination includes complementary colors of yellow, blue and burgundy, planted merely with Pansies and two varieties of Lobelia.

Next, we come to summer – desert style! As you can see from this picture, the trees on the east side of the pots now provide some intermittent shade to the pots.

The Vinca, Salvia and Chartreuse and Blackie Sweet Potato Vine (SPV) are all sun-loving plants, but anything will do better with some respite from the intense summer sun.

Notice our ballplayers tucked in the leaves of the two shades of the SPV. It seems as though they have not given up their game as they know to stay in the shade!

 

 

Back to another winter season and the out-of-the-picture eastern tree has grown to provide even more shade for the pots. A long-living perennial (Butterfly Iris) and a shrub, Golden Euonymus have been added as permanent stature plants in the back two pots. The front pot is filled with cold-loving Cyclamen that will survive most desert frosts.

 

This last picture brings us back the full circle to another summer. You can now see the golden colors of the Euonymus as it reflects the early morning sun.

Since the pots are continuing to be protected from the sun by the mature tree, more shade plants have been added including Begonia, Bacopa, and Geraniums.

The hottest pot is the back yellow pot where Calibrachoa and Dusty Miller are added for some bold contrasting shades. The back two pots will also shade the front pot in the later afternoon sun.

You can find ways to create shade by calculated alignment of the pots in relation to the movement of the sun.

Just as our two kids playing ball have their own story to tell, as you start out with just three pots,
be part of creating your memories in your garden.

 

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Bringing the Tropics Home to Your Desert Oasis

January is the perfect time to start planning a desert oasis in a new area of your  container garden. The ideas listed below will also work in areas of dry climates, reasonably mild winters and hot, dry summers. What better way to create an oasis garden than to look at our patios for the magical setting for morning coffee or afternoon cocktails.

With freezing nights typical during desert winters, we can stretch our plant choices a little further, if we provide most of the plants with heavily filtered sun, afternoon shade and cold protection starting at 45 degrees.

Many plants that we have come to know as ‘house plants” are actually tropical plants that cannot survive the cold temperatures that most of the United States experiences. We are familiar with names like Pothos, Dracaena, Crotons, Philodendrum and other common house plants. In full shade and with cold protection if the temperatures go below 40, these are tropical wonders for our patio oasis.

Pictured below are a Multi-Trunked Draceana, a Golden Xanadu and a Fiddle Leaf Ficus. All of these plants need good cold weather protection with more than just frost cloths. Heat lamps, moving into a garage, an Arizona room or even into the house for the winter will help protect these tropical plants.

Read More…

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Low Water Desert Color – It Works!

Planning for a garden of color in dry and hot climates can be challenging. Especially if you prefer not being wedded to your container garden and the garden hose. Choosing low water bloomersDry Pot in Summer Desert Heat will not only provide you with an easier solution other than cactus but will give you that desired living color focal point in your desert landscape all summer long.

Choose low water plants that require similar light and water and those that will do well in your hot climate.

  1. Use quality potting soil that retains moisture AND drains well – I know it sounds like an oxymoron but it is true!
  2. For a combination plantings, plan to use plants that grow into three different heights – tall, mid-range and trailing.
  3. Plant early in the day and water your pot thoroughly after planting.
  4. Keep the pot moist until you see new growth. Then you will want to water the pot every two to three days. Water until you see water coming out the bottom of the pot. Test the moisture level at the root level which with these plants should be down about 6-8 inches.

Be mindful of the moisture in the pot throughout the summer as the heat escalates.

Plants used in this combination include: (Clockwise from Back Left)

Gopher Plant (Euphorbia rigida)

Blood Flower (Asclepias currasavica) Of the Milkweed family, Monarch butterflies need to feed on milkweed plants as caterpillars and so do not be surprised if you find a Monarch chrysalis on this plant

Parrot’s Beak (Lotus berthelotii)

Lantana (Lantana camara)

Note – except for the Parrot’s Beak, the plants in this pot are critter resistant!

Favorite Desert Color Works in Pots Too

We see Bougainvillea all over our desert landscapes. With a larger number of patio homes, these large plants are often too unwieldy to support in the patio landscape. Desert Dwellers often ask about planting Bougainvillea in pots so they can enjoy them year-round in hot climates. However, Bougainvillea are seriously particular, so follow these tips to increase your chances of success!

  1. Choose the right sized container. You need one at least 22” in height and diameter and one that is heavy with a wide bottom to reduce the risk of tipping. Be sure there are drainage holes in the pot.
  2. Give bougainvillea plants well-drained soil. Bougainvillea does not require high quality soils. Use a garden soil that is coarser with organic material and even gravely as potting soil is too rich for these plants.
  3. Do not disturb the roots when removing from the nursery can. Handle carefully, cutting the can away from the root ball rather than pulling the plant from the can.
  4. Position the bougainvillea plant in the best place. Bougainvillea is a sun-lover and it will grow best in a full sun position, in the open, facing due south. Heat is not an issue for bougainvillea.
  5. Water sparingly. Bougainvillea plants weaken with too much watering, ending up with heavy leaf growth in place of flowers
  6. Prune. Bougainvillea plants are prolific growers and need good pruning to force blooming:
  7. Wait for the first colorful bracts to form and fall off in spring
  8. Once they fall, prune excess growth
  9. Fertilize with a high phosphate fertilizer. This will cause new bloom on the shorter flowering spurs
  10. Repeat during the flowering season as needed.
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Getting Potted In
The De
sert Book

Marylee Pangman shares her wealth of information gained from 20 + years creating successful Potted Gardens in the Desert