Tag Archives: potted desert flowers

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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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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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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July in your Hot, Dry Container Garden

Think Positively – You Can Grow Beautiful Pots even in the hot summer

Summer Potted Desert Flowers

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To Do In Your Pots This Month

1. Garden and water in the very early mornings.

Who wants to be out in the heat?

2. Increase watering frequency to be sure pots don’t dry out.

You want your pots to be damp throughout.

3. Deadhead your spent flowers weekly to encourage new buds

Doing this weekly makes it be less of a chore.

4. Avoid pruning plants now that the desert has heated up.

Pruning now leads to sunburn by exposing previously shaded stems.

5. Keep up with bi-weekly pot fertilizing with a water-soluble fertilizer.

Be sure the soil is already damp before applying fertilizer.

 

Special notes on roses (From the Rose Society of Tucson)Healthy rose blooms (2)

Water, water, water: 

  • As temperatures remain above 100 degrees, water potted roses daily.
  • New potted roses may need water twice a day
  • NEW RECOMMENDATION: Water late in the afternoon after 6 p.m. during this time of year which allows for less evaporation
  • Place potted roses in an area that gets afternoon shade

Spray off your roses daily with water: The No.1 enemy of roses during the summer in hot and dry climates are spider mites. Spider mites, which look like small salt-and-pepper particles under leaves, will suck the leaves dry until they turn light brown and fall off. Keeping as much foliage on your plants is crucial to rose health during the summer.Every morning, spray off your roses with a jet of water supplied by a nozzle  attached to your water hose. YMake sure you spray underneath the leaves of the plant. By doing this daily, this will prevent spider mites from getting started. The added benefit is adding humidity to your garden which is vital in arid summer conditions.

Do not deadhead or remove dead leaves during the heat. Every bit of added shade helps.

 

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“Back Home” Gardens Turn Into Desert Surprises

Did you grow up in the desert? I didn’t and a huge number of people I have met over the last 20 years are not from the dry, hot climate we have come to love. We came from ‘up north’, ‘back east’ or ‘out west.’ We may have gardened easily in these regions with ample rain, plenty of sun, simple conditions. Except maybe for deer, that is.

Many transplanted gardeners yearn for their gardens from back home. Often we think – it’s just not possible to create the bountiful and joyful garden that we had in our milder climates; at least in the summer. Now, faced with the challenges of the desert, we might give up and not even bother once we see the thermometer hitting the 95o mark.

Don’t Let Your Pots Go Empty All Summer

Today I want to give you permission to try something different. I want your pots to not only survive the desert heat but have gardens that thrive all summer long.  Like something that you loved back home.

The opening photo is a bed of coleus. These wonderful, colorful leafy plants are being hybridized to handle increasingly hot climates. Some even can take a moderate amount of sun. I suggest you plant them when the nights are still slightly cool in order to become established before the heat sets in and be sure to choose a location that gets morning sun only and then providing them with ample water.

 

Coleus in Full Sun Desert PotThis second picture of coleus IS in full sun in the higher elevations of the mid-desert. Imagine how this mound of plantings shade its  soil maintaining a cooler temperature for its roots.

The pot is about 28” in diameter and holds an abundant volume of soil that will insulate the roots. It is amazing that even in this all-day sun setting, it thrived!

In the low desert such as Palm Springs and Phoenix, I would advise you to place this pot where it will be in the shade by 10am.

In the high desert, plant coleus after all danger of frost is past and feel free to place in sunny locations.

 

Bed Of Marigolds

Use the principles listed in the previous paragraph and the tips below to tempt fate with plants that you would love to try again. Don’t spend your entire savings on your first attempt though, work with only a few plants at a time. For instance, in this next photo is a bed of Marigolds. Experts have said; ‘Do not endeavor to grow Marigolds all summer in the desert.’

This photo was taken in Tucson, Arizona in August a few years back. The bed was planted with 4 inch transplants in the early spring in full sun. As the sun made its northern journey across the horizon, the bed was positioned so it was tucked into shade from the short wall behind it. With plenty of water and good air circulation, the marigolds thrived.

 

4 Tips to Stretch your “Back Home” plants into the Desert

  1. Choose some of your most resilient favorites.
  2. Plant early in the summer season. Best to plant in pots before the night temperatures consistently reach the 70’s.
  3. Provide consistent and abundant water. (except succulents such as those that come from California)
  4. Start small and gain experience.

Success takes three elements; the right spot with the right conditions, your love for the plants and a little amount of luck.

What plants from “back home” have you succeeded in planting, stretching the limits of your desert garden?

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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