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Last updateWed, 27 Aug 2014 10am

Potted Desert Garden

Continuing on our theme this month of seasonal changes in our desert potted gardens: This week, we’ll visit one home’s entryway, and talk about design.

These pots are in the full morning sun and will get an afternoon siesta, as the front of the house is facing east. Let’s study these pots over several years of plantings—largely during the summer season.

One year, we planted just two colors, as you can see in the photo above: a tree form of a daisy bush, and an underplanting of red/coral geraniums. (Just how many shades of red are there?) The tree canopy will grow significantly, but the colors will remain true.

Next, as you can see in the first photo below, we have a bountiful bouquet—yet it remains simple, with pale pink vinca, yellow marigolds (which will only last until it is hot) and purple salvia. If you want to keep the yellow in the mix, add some zinnias when the marigolds die off; profusion zinnias are your best bet. The back of the pot has a perennial butterfly iris, which should shoot up some flowers by next spring.

The last duo gets to be a little wilder, with hot pink vinca, purple summer snaps (angelonia), and skyflower, a frost-tender perennial shrub (duranta erecta). If you use the skyflower, you will be pleased with the strong purple flowers all summer long, as well as the orange berries.

Your pots, with the right amount of water, can thrive all summer. If in doubt, ask someone in the know at a local nursery—or email me anytime!

Marylee Pangman is the founder and former owner of The Contained Gardener in Tucson, Ariz. She has become known as the desert’s potted garden expert. She is available for digital consultations, and you can email her with comments and questions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow the Potted Desert at facebook.com/potteddesert. Get a free copy of Ten Top Tips to Desert Potted Garden Success by visiting www.potteddesert.com/m.

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