Tag Archives: Desert Pots

Designing with a King in Your Potted Garden

This summer I have been showing off the “Silver King” Euonymus, a member of the Boxleaf family and very container-friendly and perfect for your potted garden. If you missed the previous column on the “King”, click here to check it out.

Designing for the “King” with a Court of Odd Fellows 

Too many colors in our potted garden will create havoc or confusion in our weary, heat-laden minds. Let’s return to this month’s theme of the rule of three and limit our choice in color combinations to odd numbers, and in this case the magic 3! 

 The picture above, featuring our plant of the month, the ‘Silver King’ Euonymus was already established in the pot. The silvery white and green glossy leaves stands out in our combination but the green is static in our combination and we will not count it as one of the three colors. With the white, I added strong contrasting colors including purple of Nierembergia ‘Purple Robe’ with the almost black leaf of the Black Pearl Ornamental pepper plant. The white is repeated in white ‘Profusion’ Zinnias as the bookends of the potted garden design.  

You can substitute purple Scaevola or Fan Flower for the Nierembergia. This will hold up better in the desert full sun. You can also use white Vinca for your white. You could also substitute yellow for the white – with either the Profusion Zinnias or Purslane. 

 Shopping for your Potted Garden Plants

As I always recommend, group your plants on a cart at the nursery and step back from them to see if you like them. You will be tempted to buy many other plants and flowers for your potted garden but keep in mind the heat and keep it simple. You can always go back another day! 

 

 

Happy Potting! … Marylee

 

 

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Sultry August in Your Desert Potted Garden

 The ‘OMG’ Month in Your Desert Potted Garden

It’s hot. It’s humid. Ugh. You don’t need me to tell you that. August is the month to take a break from many desert potted garden chores. The largest challenges are managing the weather and the needs of your garden.

You have the list here. Right click on it and print it out. Here are a few extra tips.

Hmmm… that’s funny – Tips!

Pot with top-heavy Bougainvillea is a high danger of blowing over.

i.e., Tipping pots

Heavy rains with blustery winds can endanger tall pots with narrow bases. When a storm is coming, be sure to

  • lasso them in
  • tuck them into corners or
  • put other, more solid structures around them.

 

 


Tip #2

Irrigation and Watering Your Pots During the Rains

Do not assume because it rains that you can stop watering your pots. Here’s some information from various weather sources:

  • Don’t forget to water your plants, even when it rains. … Even in wet seasons, watering helps, because roots need air to function, and a “cats and dogs” rain temporarily drives all the air out of the ground.

A ‘cats and dogs’ rain certainly applies to monsoon rains.

  • An inch of water should penetrate the ground at least 6 to 15 inches, depending on the soil type. Clay soils are denser, and water doesn’t penetrate as deeply as in sandy soils. Ideal garden soil will be moist 12 inches after an inch of rain.

I can hear you now – oh good! The local weather said we had an inch of rain! Did you have an inch where you live? Do you have a rain gauge near your pots? Or better yet, in one of your pots? Often we get a 1/4′ which is absolutely not enough for your summer flowers.

  • Soil on the dry side will take longer to absorb enough water to rehydrate itself. So that inch of rain is not going to do enough good to allow you to skip a day.
  • And speaking of skipping a day, if it rains that inch or more today, don’t assume it is good for tomorrow. Thirsty summer flowers usually need water daily so don’t skip. Check the soil. If it remains cloudy, you may not need to water on Day Two.

Don’t assume. Check your plants daily or you may be in for a very sad surprise.

Tip #3

Plant new plants in your desert potted garden only if you find good ones

Sometimes in August, the supply of new flowers is disappointing. If you have some plants in your pots that are looking really sad, pull them out and groom the bare soil spots.

Visit your favorite nursery and look for thriving Pentas, Summer Snaps (Angelonia), or healthy young petunias. If you don’t see something you really like, Wait! Talk to the staff and see when they think some fresh plants will be in. You want things that will be gorgeous throughout the fall.

If you have a copy of my book, check out the section on shoulder season plants. If not, click on the image to order one today!

Happy Monsooning! …. Marylee

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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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It’s a hot one – Desert Pots Care – July

July Container Garden Care in Dry Climates

Are we going to get a break? I don’t see any sign of monsoons now. Maybe as this reaches you, the weather will prove me wrong!

Pay attention to your desert pots and watering system; irrigation or human. 😉

 

Put this Checklist on your refrigerator so you do not forget your desert pots!

 


Get a Deal on Scheduling an In-Home Consultation with Marylee!


Reserve Now – Have your appointment when it cools off.

A design for 8 pots rather than 5

Two seasons of Designs rather than 1

Reserve Your Space Now before Prices Go Up

Delay your Appointment until September **

Secure your spot today as appointments are limited! Email Now! 


Get the help you need fast and easily right from your smartphone or tablet.  

Choose an area of your outdoors that has been a challenge for you. This area typically will be a covered patio, an entry, a section of your yard or a corner behind a pool. It is an area where you feel that pots will improve the look and give your home the added beauty you are looking for.  

Included in your consultation: 

  • A one-hour live session with Marylee through your phone’s lens. (Facetime or Skype – I can help you if you are unfamiliar with using these video tools) 

  • Immediate answers to pressing problems or challenges 

  • Recommendations for relocating and/or adding pots in your most challenging area.  

Following your consultation, Marylee will email the following within a week of your appointment: 

  • A simple drawing of the planned area with included pots numbered for easy reference 

  • Two custom designed planting plans for up to five Eight pots* 

  • A list of materials needed including optional materials that make your gardening experience more efficient and enjoyable 

  • A step-by-step action plan to guide you in completing your project 

  • An after-planting care guide to ensure your new plants get off to a good start.   

Price all inclusive – $125** for up to five eight pots.  

Marylee will give you an estimate for additional pot or planter designs. 

Next Step? 

Email Marylee to book your appointment today! Within a day or two, you will be sent a questionnaire to complete with the link to book an appointment. Your appointment will be billed at time of scheduling. 

**Offer expires September 1, 2018. Appointments must be booked before October 1, 2018.


I hope you stay in touch with me!

Feel free to send me your questions.

Happy Potting!

Marylee

Stay Tuned as I send out other tips this month for your summer pots. Receive your copy of Marylee’s Monthly Potted Garden News in your inbox by signing up below.

 

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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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As the Desert Heats Up – Care for Your Hot Pots

May Container Garden Care for Hot Pots in Dry Climates

The keyword this month is Mindfulness. It’s imperative to stay in touch with your garden. Monitor all plants as the Desert heats up, especially your newly planted gardens in the hot pots.
Also pay attention to your watering system; irrigation or human. 😉

I hope you stay in touch with me!

Feel free to send me your questions.

Put this Checklist on your refrigerator so you do not forget!

Happy Potting!

Marylee


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Stay Tuned as I send out other tips this month for your summer pots. Receive your copy of Marylee’s Monthly Potted Garden News in your inbox One Week from Today by signing up below.

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Hold Off Planting Summer Flowers in Desert Pots

Do your March Diligence before Planting Summer Flowers


3 Reasons to Hold Off Planting Summer Flowers

1.Frosted Perennials Remind Gardeners to Wait Until April to Plant Summer Flowers

The nights are still too cold to plant summer flowers.  You think just because I live on Kauai I don’t know what’s going on in the dry and hot regions of the country? This week in desert communities, nights are predicted to be in the 40’s plus or minus 5 degrees depending on your elevation. Summer annuals need a strong start to survive – no Thrive all summer long. They need time to grow their root system before the heat begins.

2.Beautiful Pinks Still Grace Three Pots of Winter Plantings

Your winter flower should still be looking lovely and scented annuals are filling the air with their fragrances. I am picturing the fragrance of Allysum with Stock mixed in with Jasmines and Citrus flowers. A good pruning or dead heading will help you get them to satisfy you for another few weeks. Give them a shot of fertilizer too (water soluble) to be sure they are well fed.

3. Rich Blue Pot with Yellow Winter Annuals in Desert Full Sun

The nurseries may have a few early summer flowers tempting your wallet. But they are typically young plants, not always well rooted. You will have a much better selection if you want 4 – 5 more weeks. Also, landscapers will be buying out the first round of plants from local growers and nurseries. Let them have first dibs and wait for the second round as the nights warm up.

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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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Still Time to Get Potted for the Holidays!

Potted – in your container gardens that is!

Last Minute Ideas for your pots

Plant annuals under or around your potted permanent plants.
  • Go to the nursery and choose flowers that go with your holiday color scheme.
  • Choose from the list below or get help from your local nursery staff
  • Plant these plants right into the soil, adding a little time release fertilizer (scant handful)
  • Water in after planting.
For your Sun Plantings, add Red and White Annuals such as:
  • Petunias
  • Stock
  • Million Bells
  • Dianthus – try the newer variety of Amazon or other super tall Dianthus
  • Nemesia
  • Diaiscia
  • Geraniums (part shade too)
  • Snapdragons (Whites and Burgundy – no red)
  • Pansies and Viola (Whites and Burgundy – no red)

Shade Plantings – Red and White Annuals:
  • Primrose and Cyclamen are your best bets in full shade.
  • Geraniums best in morning or filtered sun
  • Poinsettias are of course wonderful and with all the new varieties, you have more choices than only red.
  • Paper Whites, and Amaryllis are great nursery plants that you can use in pots during the holidays.
  • If there is a dip in temperatures to 40° or below, you will want to bring tender tropical plants inside.

If you only have a little time

Simply place a potted plant (or several) on top of the soil of the larger plant and dress it with potted ivy, garland, pine boughs, lights and anything else you have on hand to finish it off. This is a great way to use those tender nursery plants that you might have to bring inside.
Pots on your patio or near your front door are a great place to add candles (maybe the flameless variety) inside chimneys among the plantings. This would be a great addition when you are expecting guests.
No matter how much or how little you do, allow your child’s eye the freedom to create the look you want for the holidays. I know I have kept within the traditional red and white color spectrum but if you want to work with blues, all whites, gold’s or silver’s – look to those colors when you visit the nursery. I know you will find something that just tickles you.

Read More…

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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