Purple fountain grass is resilient stuff.

It’s August—so it’s no surprise that it is HOT!!! We did choose to live in the desert, didn’t we?

Still, those of us who are die-hard gardeners want our plants to keep looking good and providing us with color and interest around our homes.

Obviously, we have no control over the weather—but we do have control over what we plant. There are remarkable plants—without resorting to succulents and cactus—that we can successfully plant in our pots and enjoy for months to come! Some of the most durable plants add color to our desert landscapes. and we don’t need to spend the hot days tending them.

Since we have abundant desert winds around our homes, I love to ornamental grasses. They dance in the wind, and hold up to the drying conditions of the heat and wind; thrive in full sun; and take a low to moderate amount of water—as long as they’re given a large pot.

A desert standby is purple fountain grass (Pennisetum setaceum ‘Rubrum’), which you can see above, but you can use most grasses that the nurseries carry. One of my favorites is Muhlenbergia capillaris, or pink muhly. A wispy grass with pink, airy plumes, it flows nicely in the wind.

Day lilies (below) are another sure thing. Often called “the perfect perennial” due to their dazzling colors, ability to tolerate drought, ability to thrive in full sun, and minimal care requirements, day lilies bloom for months, offering a big bang for your buck! These will regrow each year so you can leave them in a pot until they outgrow it.

For both of these plants, you want to make sure that you plant them in a pot that is at least 20 inches at the top, and one that has a V-shape opening—not an urn-shape where the top curves into the plant. (It would be a devil to take out when it overgrows the pot!) Check out the diagram below.

Marylee is the desert’s potted garden expert. Email her with comments and questions at potteddesert@gmail.com.

Day lilies!