A Winter KISS Design for
Full Sun in Your Desert Pots
(KISS – Keep It Super Simple!)
Plant this pot design from the back to front (as pictured) or start with the Osteos in the center for an all-around pot.
Why I Love These Plants
Osteospermums, Petunias, Pansies and Lobelia provide bold color for your winter desert pots no matter what shades you choose.
I love how they all cascade over the sides of the pot, creating a beautiful bouquet resulting in a gorgeous display. As they grow, they will also intertwine, so the viewer does not know where one plant begins and ends. The cascading effect allows you to use any pot, regardless of its wear, because you will not see the pot two months into the season!
Why I chose this Pot
As I mentioned above, the pot, in this case, does not have to be remarkable. The pot sits on pot feet, ensuring the air circulation under the pot and ample room for water to drain out of the bottom hole.
The beauty of this KISS design is that you can use any size pot 18″ and larger by adjusting the number of flowers you use to fill it.
The “rules” around this type of design are to stay in one color palette and vary the shades and textures of your plants and flowers. You want to be careful that the style of the flowers does not have much variegation as it will become too busy and potentially disjointed if you get too far outside the box.
The pot shown includes Osteospermums in a pinky-purple. There are many “Osteos” within the purple spectrum. The shade and color values of the Osteos make this your accent or feature plant.
The Petunias and Pansies are Purple, but the Pansies have a black face.
The Lobelia is also purple, but you may use the lighter lavender shade or even a deep blue.
Quantity of Plants
Your quantity will depend on the size pot you are using. Use this chart as a guide.
This is a full sun pot, so you should not use anything smaller than a large pot.
The chart shows a large pot will probably take 11 flowers. However, since these annuals grow into sprawling plants, I have reduced the count by one plant for a 20″ pot.
I suggest you use this count:
Large Pot 18″ -23″
- (2) 4” or Quart Osteospermum
- (2) 4″ Purple Petunias
- (3) 4″ Purple Pansies
- (3) 4″ Purple Lobelia
For an XL pot, increase the quantity to the approximate total of 16 plants.
XL Pot 24″ -28″
- (3) 4” or Quart Osteospermum
- (3) 4″ Purple Petunias
- (5) 4″ Purple Pansies
- (5) 4″ Purple Lobelia
Petunias tend to grow more extensively than the other plants, so I keep their quantity less than the other plants.
- Start with the Osteos planted in the back of the pot. Spread them across the backside. Think of placing them in a triangle with the point facing the front in an XL pot.
- Plant the Petunias on the outer edges of the center row and the pansies in the center in front of the Osteos.
- Then, add the Lobelia to the front half of the pot on the outer edges.
Reasons this pot and planting were so successful.
- A large or extra-large pot. This one is 20″ interior diameter at the rim, which means the belly is even wider, giving the roots plenty of room to grow.
- The homeowner’s dedicated potline provides consistent, thorough watering, which has proven highly reliable.
- The Osteos and Lobelia are cold tender annuals that must be protected from freezes if the temperatures go below 30°F (approximately.) Pansies and Petunias are hardier but covering them certainly will make them happy!
- Regular grooming (deadheading) and fertilizing are consistently provided.
Added Benefits of this Design
- This arrangement is versatile and can accommodate a changing color palette. You can use the same ideas in this design in other pots around your home. You can’t go wrong with the selection of plants.
- Given the right annuals, water needs are moderate. With this size pot and the thick walls of the glazed clay, it will retain moisture in the center of the soil during sunny days. Once established during cooler winter days, it will need watering about every two to three days. However, you have to be mindful and see what your flowers need.
- Snowbirds can still use this recipe and safeguard soil health if your pots are on a drip line. Remove the winter flowers before leaving for the summer, and provide regular summer water with an irrigation line to keep the soil viable.
- Year-round desert gardeners can change the flowers each season. Change your color scheme and plants freely to experiment with new combinations!
- Cover the drainage hole with screening or a folded coffee filter.
- Use a quality potting mix. Suppose starting this pot from scratch with about 1.5-2 cubic feet of soil, depending on your pot’s size. I prefer Black Gold General Potting Mix.
- If you are planting an 18″ – 23″ pot, you need to fill this entire pot with soil. The roots need all the space possible.
- However, if you are planting a larger pot and have no perennials added to this design, you can put something in the bottom, such as crushed gallon plastic jugs, nursery cans (upside down), or any other filler you like to use. I would not use rocks or other types of soil!
- Apply granular time-released fertilizer as you add the final layer of soil.
- Water thoroughly immediately after planting.
Have fun with this design. Follow the plant selection and quantity guidelines and enjoy how it changes as it grows!