Feast your eyes on this potted winter garden in the desert, pictured above. A warm February really made the colors shine in this Mexican wide-urn pot. The combination of deep pink petunias, blue pansies and yellow violas is framed with fragrant white alyssum. The center butterfly iris will stay in the pot year-round, providing height and stature throughout the seasons.
The next photo of the same planting, below, shows how aggressive the alyssum can be, as it takes over the entire rim of the pot. The petunias are strong in their efforts to blast through the bed of white. In the back of the pot, it’s easy to miss the addition of snapdragons to add tall color. Now that it has warmed up, they will soon burst open with another deep rose color.
In the next picture: Switching to early summer, the winter flowers have petered out, but you can see how well the butterfly iris has grown. It even has a flower on the left side. Some of the leaves need some trimming, as they are showing signs of age, but the plant is still doing very well. Early-season marigolds, red vinca and blackie sweet potato vine have all been added to the pot, along with some purple salvia, tucked in the back to intertwine with the butterfly iris.
Now to another early summer photo. The butterfly iris outgrew the pot, and rather than dividing it, we decided to go with a new look. We have a standard yellow daisy bush underplanted with coral geraniums. We want to complement the shades of the clay pot and decided the coral would work nicely highlighted with the tall, easy care yellow of the daisy tree.
In the final picture: Unfortunately, after five years of our urn pots, they finally gave out—to the exploration of critters in this east facing front yard. We moved to a more stable pot and lower-water plants. This young winter planting includes a cordyline, a geranium and yellow pansies. The geranium is a lighter color coral that will work with the similarly colored glazed pot in Chinese red.
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 email@example.com. 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.