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14 Apr 2015

The Potted Desert Garden: Yes, You Can Have a Flower Garden During the Summer

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A substantial number of people who have moved to the desert ask me about the difficulties of growing flowers in the desert in the summer. No, check that: They tell me that you cannot grow flowers in the desert in the summer.

I admit it can be a challenge. However, with enough water, some afternoon shade and the right flowers, you can have an abundant summer garden.

The pots pictured in this column obviously include mature plantings. They were started from 4-inch plants purchased from the nursery and are the direct result of daily watering, biweekly fertilizing and careful grooming. The pots at this desert home are on a dedicated drip line and got off to a good start before the summer really started heating up.

This home is at a higher elevation than the Palm Springs desert floor, so a few of these plants may not make it all summer long in the lower elevations. However, if you use vinca and pentas. you will have a decent chance of summer success. Also, if you can place your pots where they get afternoon shade, you will greatly increase your chances. For homes without shade for pots, create shade placing a large pot with a tree planted in it on the west side of the flowering pots. You can also put some shade cloth over the plants during the really hot periods, but be sure it is anchored down, or you will eventually find it in your neighbor’s pool.

If you have not been planting a potted garden in the summer, start with just a couple of pots, so you don’t get overwhelmed with the care they need in the heat. You might have to experiment with a few plants; be sure you get the watering correct before you invest in a multitude of pots and plants.

Never say never! Think of the joy you will have celebrating your gardening success in the desert summer.

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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