A fortnight lily. Credit: www.cepolina.com

Here’s an idea for a pot that you can put outside of your living-room window that’s full of red, white and green cheer.

First, your shopping list:

  • One 16-to-20-inch diameter pot
  • One one-gallon butterfly iris or fortnight lily
  • Three 4-inch red cyclamen
  • Two 4-inch white bacopa

Choose a pot that is at least 16 inches in diameter. Another 2-4 inches is even better; it depends what you want to use for the holidays. Fill the bottom of the pot with your favorite potting soil (after making sure you have a good drainage hole, and that you cover it with a screen or coffee filter); add some time-release fertilizer.

Decide if the pot will be seen just from one side or all around, and plant in the following order, back to front, or center out.

First, take the butterfly iris out of its nursery container; be sure to loosen up the roots, as they are usually packed. A fortnight lily will work just as well, but as the plant matures, the leaves become much broader, and I prefer the “grassy” appearance of the iris.

Plant the iris in the back or center of the pot. Next, plant the cyclamen (if planting front to back, you only may need three) closely around the iris. Then take your bacopa, keeping the trailers on the outside of the pot; fill in between the cyclamen. Add soil as needed to snug up.

Place the pot on a shady covered patio in front of your window to enjoy, indoors and out! It would look very nice on a stand or table, closer to eye level. You will find you only need to water the pot every few days, as all of these plants have low to moderate water needs once established.

If you feel in a decorating mood, you can add some holiday décor to the pot; put some glass beads around the base with some blue-gray river rock; or add a couple more smaller pots with some white or red cyclamen in them. If you find you have any dirt showing around your plants, add some sphagnum moss to cover it, and dress the pot up more.

Each of these plants are perennials; however, if it gets too cold, the bacopa may need to be treated as an annual. I have bacopa growing in my carport yard year-round, and some of the plants have lasted for three years now! The cyclamen will stop flowering when it gets hot, but you can plant something else around it in the summer and then spice up the fertilizer in the fall to get it to start flowering again.

Eventually, your iris will need to be divided—probably in two years. Then you can add it to another pot.

If you are having a holiday party, feel free to bring the pot inside, but be sure to get it back outside soon. You don’t want to leave it inside more than a day.

Enjoy! Keep this pot going, and it will work for Valentine’s Day, too!

If you only have 20 minutes in your desert potted garden this week: Water your potted cactus deeply with a water soluble fertilizer at half strength (of the recommended directions on the fertilizer container).

Marylee is the founder and former owner of The Contained Gardener in Tucson, Ariz. She has become known as the Desert’s Potted Garden Expert. E-mail her with comments and questions at potteddesert@gmail.com, and follow The Potted Desert on Facebook.