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11 Nov 2014

The Potted Desert Garden: Flowers That Can Help You Fill Your Senses

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These white annuals will add flowery fragrances to your potted garden. These white annuals will add flowery fragrances to your potted garden.

The sensual joy of being able to plant year-round in our desert gardens is immeasurable. Our patios treat us to a wonderful visual display. The sounds of birds, perhaps water from a fountain, a harmonious wind chime and leaves rustling in the wind add to the acoustic value of our peaceful garden.

How about adding a few varieties of fragrant flowers so that your guests are quick to remark: "What is that delightful scent as I come up to your home?"

Unfortunately, many plants are no longer fragrant. They have been hybridized to improve their growth, develop resistance to new threats of pests and disease, and/or to increase their blooming cycles. All of these so-called improvements have come at a big price: the loss of scent.

However, you can still find many plants that will perfume your garden through the year. Be sure to place them strategically to enjoy them thoroughly. Some flowers have a light scent and need to be close by to be appreciated. Ideal planting locations include along a pathway to your front door; by a patio; or near a window that’s often open.

Use many plants of the same kind together for the strongest impact. Fragrant annuals including flowering tobacco, nasturtium, calendula, stock, sweet pea, dianthus, alyssum and wallflower are all readily available this winter in nurseries.

You can also select plants with fragrant leaves, like herbs and scented geraniums. Herbs for the winter months include mint (keep this in a separate pot as it will take over anything else!), rosemary, thyme and lavender (do not overwater).

Don't forget vines with fragrant flowers such as jasmine (confederate, night-blooming and star) and honeysuckle, as well as roses and citrus trees. Many shrubs will also perfume the air. My favorite for the shade is the gardenia. This is another plant that you will not want to overwater, as it will drop its buds after they turn brown for no apparent reason if you do.

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. Marylee 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.

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