December in your Desert Container Garden

Winter flowers in a desert container from The Potted Desert
Greetings All! Happy December!

As I sat down to write this month’s post, as often happens after Thanksgiving, I was a little uninspired. There are many things I would rather be doing except to do a little puttering in my small garden, decorating the house, or watching the endless supply of Christmas movies. So I thought – that is OK! I am human, am I not? I can tell my gardening friends like it is and I would not be surprised if you don’t tell me you are feeling it too!

I have spend a lot of time each fall teaching online classes with the Tucson Botanical Gardens. It is a lot of fun to meet new folks and see past students and friends show up for my classes. And everyone teaches me something too! We’ve been having some good discussions on the concern over peat moss in potting mixes and the concern over environmental issues. I will write a post about my research soon!

December Presents its Own Challenges

When people think about the desert, they immediately picture long sunny days and hot summers. When we have a true fall season, we can be lulled into lovely 80° days with plenty of time for golf, gardening and evenings on the patio.

Suddenly, our assumption that the comfort of living the dream is everlasting can be torn away with an early freeze, day temperatures not rising above 55° and nights falling below 32. Now those in snowy, northern climes will laugh at us desert dwellers and say, “Give me a break!” But darn it, it’s cold!

Tucson Annual average Temperatures

December and January are the coldest months in the middle desert of the SW U.S.  For years I’ve sought to abandon ship during this time of year. But now I’m committed to “toughing it out” and snuggling in during the coldest days while bounding outside as soon as I see the thermometer hit 70°.

Check out December’s Checklist and be sure to provide your plants with the care they need during the cold to keep flourishing!

A simple planting of a yellow dairy bush, red Dianthus and white Alyssum by The Potted Desert

A simple planting of a young, yellow daisy bush, red Dianthus and white Alyssum by The Potted Desert

This month, while we can plant our pots until they are brimming with beautiful color, we need to be on top of freeze warnings.

Keep up with your December tasks in your desert container garden

3 Ways to Insure Success in your Desert Pots

People often ask me how they can learn more about how to garden in this challenging but wonderful climate. There is no “one stop shop” to learn everything that will help you succeed.

I offer three resources to teach all that I have learned and experienced over the last 25 years. My book, membership in The Seriously Potted and online classes  offers you all the information you need to guarantee your success.

You can pick and choose as you like but keep this in mind. When you subscribe to The Seriously Potted, you receive a wealth of information and discounts on your classes.

Have your own copy of Getting Potted in the Desert

Paperback books Amazon

Here is a quote from one of my book purchasers:

I moved to Tucson a year and a half ago from the Seattle, Washington area. I needed to “re-learn” and adjust to many new gardening techniques in this Sonoran Desert climate. Marylee’s new book is a godsend. I now have a “to do” list for every month with the information I need to take care of my landscape and pots … as well as add new plants or dispose of ones I don’t want any longer. Thank You, Marylee!  Kathy P.

It’s not too late to order books now – for yourself or for a gift. 

Are you serious about your potted garden?

You might want to consider getting Seriously Potted before the price goes up in February. Here is a short list of what you will receive:

    • Discounts on all online classes
    • Monthly pot design
    • Plant profiles of all plants in the design
    • Monthly online Q&A with Marylee
    • Discounts on consultations, too!

2021 Class Schedule in the works

Stay tuned for my 2021 class schedule. Many new classes coming as well as repeats of the “Getting Started Series.” Start Strong with the Potted Desert

You can make sure you are the first to hear about classes with this link. Here’s one of my student’s critique of my classes:

Up to now, I’ve only had succulents, cactus, and geraniums. Using your techniques is enabling me to branch out into plants I didn’t think I could have. Thanks for developing this service. I’ve learned a lot in a short time.


Desert Red Geraniums and Silver.potteddesert.comIf you are inclined to do some planting this month:

You might want to pick up some extra flowers to make your pots company ready. Or add an arrangement to your front door. Whatever whim you have, keep it simple and save your time and energy for other holiday preparations and definitely time to enjoy your friends and family.

Happy Holidays to you!

Keep everyone you love close – if not in person, then in your hearts.

Take time for each other and to smell the flowers!


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Marylee Pangman