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Potted Tips for your Desert Garden – December


Your Smallest SpacesPrepare for the coming holidays with a final spruce up of your pots. The picture above has reds for those celebrating Christmas but are not so committed to being a ‘red all over’ theme that no matter what holiday you might celebrate, these pots will be a cheerful addition to any entry. There is an added benefit of a lettuce mix in bright green and red that will easily find its way into your daily salads.

Don’t be afraid to add more flowers to your desert potted garden this month. You can continue to plant all winter long. Just hold off if the temperatures approach the freezing mark as it will be hard for the young plants to get off to a good start. Typically these low temperatures only last a week and you can start planting again as long as the night time temperatures are in the 40’s.

December’s Desert Potted Garden Checklist:

  1. Continue to plant successive plantings of lettuce, spinach, chard, and other fast-maturing winter greens.
  2. Snip petunias to encourage them to branch and spread and reduce the stickiness and ‘ickiness’ of maturing plants. Cut the ends off of stems to encourage side branching. This will promote abundant flowering and more compact plants.
  3. Remove the old blooms from geranium, cyclamen, calendula and other winter flowers as they fade by cutting them off with sharp scissors or hand pruners. This will also increase flower production.
  4. Use a bi-weekly spray application of a water soluble fertilizer on all flowering plants to encourage growth and a continual show of flowers as seen in the picture below.

Winter Color Potted Desert Landscape.jpg





Potted Roses – General Notes:

  1. Water potted roses two to three times each week.
  2. If you purchased bare root roses and have planted them in pots, it is best to move them to a protected area if the weather gets below freezing.
  3. Begin now to plan for roses that will need replacing or relocating.
  4. Pruning needs to be completed by Feb 10, so enjoy a month of relaxation until then!frost

Special Attention in December <<FREEZE WARNINGS>>

  • Check your weather forecast for freeze warnings
  • Cover the tips of sensitive columnar cacti with Styrofoam cups
  • Use frost cloth or a blanket to cover aloes, citrus, and other sensitive plants when temperatures drop below 28°F
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Potted Tips for your Desert Garden – November

Do you feel the cool air at your home now? We have finally gotten through the long summer in the desert and are ready to GARDEN!!! This is the time to plant your winter annuals and pots. The long range forecast is really saying to Get To IT NOW!!!

November’s Desert Potted Garden Checklist:

  1. Reduce the frequency of your watering schedule for your landscape plants.
  2. Water your potted plants only once a day.
  3. All watering should be done in the morning after the sun is up.
  4. Only fertilize your container plants. Other plants are now going into their dormancy and if you push new growth with fertilizer you risk frost damage to the new tips.

What to plant this month
There is an abundance of flowers in your nurseries now for you to choose from. Decide on your color scheme and plant freely!! Just remember to water everything in thoroughly so that water comes out of the bottom of the pot.

Don’t forget to fertilize with a time release fertilizer each time you repot.

Besides your normal winter plants of pansies, petunias and snapdragons, be sure to look for these wonderful additions to your winter pots: Nemesia

  • Diaiscia
  • Nemesia
  • Calendula
  • Nastursiums
  • Sweet Peas
  • Ornamental Kale
  • Dianthus
  • Alyssum

I recommend that you do not use jumbo or six-packs. Choose four inch plants or gallon containers. They will give you a faster start and if we do return to some high temperatures, these will be stronger plants.

Potted Roses
General Notes:

  1. Decrease the amount that you water your roses now that the temperatures are starting to cool. Do not decrease the amount of water but the frequency of your watering.
  2. Continue your fertilization program, until the fall blooming shows are over. Toward the end of November, you no longer want to encourage new growth. You want to begin to let your roses have a brief rest period for the winter.
  3. Keep a watchful eye for powdery mildew. As the nighttime temperatures cool off, the conditions are right for this fungus. At the first signs of mildew on your roses, spray with a fungicide such as Funginex.

Special Attention in November

Watch out for early frost and freeze warnings this month. While you are at it, be sure you have your frost cloths on hand and a plan to protect your tender plants.
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Learn How to Get Potted in the Tucson Desert Tomorrow and Saturday

Hi Gang! Did you like that rain yesterday in Tucson? I hope you each were safe. I was fortunate that Mondays are scheduled to work from my home office so I got to stay in most of the day!

I do not want you to miss out on my upcoming classes this week – as in TOMORROW and Saturday at the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

Wednesday, Sept. 10, ● 8:30 to 10 a.m.         or
Saturday, Sept. 13, ● 1 to 2:30 pm

Join potted garden expert Marylee Pangman to learn how to plan your floral combinations for extraordinary winter potted gardens.

$12, $7 members !~ You can register by clicking here or call the Gardens at 520-326-9686. If you are reading this late and want to come over in the morning, come on down! I expect we will have room for you there.

My other fall classes are listed to the right.

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Coasting Through August in Your Desert Potted Garden

Late Summer Potted Desert Flowers

Late Summer Potted Desert Flowers

Coasting… do I really mean that? Well – maybe!! The days in the hundred’s are fewer than those in the 90’s. We have had quite a bit of cloud cover and even some nice rain. I like to think that we are moving into some cooler temperatures!!

As I said back in early June, I have been working on my book, Getting Potted in the Desert. It is in the hands of my capable editor and when I get it back from her, I will be adding photos, diagrams and charts. I will keep you posted on our progress for sure!

August’s Desert Potted Garden Checklist:
• If you summer flowers are sprawling, cut them back by about 1/2. Vinca can be selectively pruned to new growth.
• Stop mosquitoes in the summer rains by eliminating places where water may collect
• Garden in the early morning or late evening to beat the heat

What to plant this month
You may want to add some fresh summer flowers this month if you have bare spots. Good choices include

  • Pentas
  • Summer Snaps (Angelonia)
  • Dianthus
  • Fresh zinnias
  • as it cools more:
    • Dianthus
    • Marigolds
    • Petunias
    • Snaps (when they come into the nurseries)

Don’t buy jumbo or six-packs. Get the four inch plants or gallon containers.

Potted Roses
General Notes:

  • Water deeply early in the morning
  • “Dead head” at least once this month.
  • Gear up for the September cut back.

Special Attention in August

Watch out for strong winds and heavy rains that could tip pots over.
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The Hot Month of June in Your Desert Potted Garden

Summer Potted Garden in the Shade

Summer Potted Garden in the Shade

Once again we are in the 100’s and it is only June 2. But what can we expect? It is June – the hottest average month of the year in the Desert. I only plan to update this blog once this month. There is not a lot to do AND I am working on my book – Getting Potted in the Desert. I have said for years I was going to get this done for you and NOW IS THE TIME!

So please – drop me a line if you have a question or just want to encourage me to get the book done. In the meantime, check out my upcoming classes at the Botanical Gardens and stay in the shade – but don’t neglect your potted garden!

This month’s checklist:
• Avoid planting new plants during this, the hottest month unless we have a cool period.
• Watch for signs of water stress and sunburn
• Increase watering, but beware of hot hose water
• Stop mosquitoes before the summer rains by eliminating places where water may collect
• Garden in the early morning or late evening to beat the heat

What to plant this month
I just said not to plant this month. However, if you must here are the safest bets you’re your summer pots
• Lantana
• Bird of Paradise species
• Guara
• Gazania
• Portulaca
• Purslane
• Pentas

Potted Roses
General Notes:
• Water early in the morning
• Water deeply
• “Dead head” at least once a month.
• Apply a half strength liquid fertilizer once a month, the day after you water your roses.

Special Attention in June

Water, shade and more water – need I say more?
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Potted Desert Cacti – May is the time to plant!

Low Bowl of Golden Barrels

Low Bowl of Golden Barrels

Potted Cactus and succulents – May is a great month to plant new cactus and succulents.

  • Be sure you are choosing their new location appropriately in regards to sun/shade needs.
  • Use cactus soil for all plants.
  • Plant at least ½ inch shy of the soil line to allow for room to add rock and not suffocate the plant.
  • Water two weeks after planting unless the planting soil is absolutely dry.
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Desert Potted Gardens – Special Attention this Month

Canoe pot deadI cannot stress enough the need to pay close attention to watering your plants this month. We have had a very dry winter/spring this year and your landscape plants may need to have some extra help before moving into the extreme summer heat.

Newly potted flowers may need twice a day watering for the first two weeks of planting. Then all pots in the sun will need daily watering. Do not let the roots dry out entirely.

Water your potted cactus every two weeks when we are without any rain.

Monitor all shade plantings to water as needed. Depending on your location and theirs, I suggest watering every 2-4 days.

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Your Desert Potted Roses – Going into Summer

Relecting Climbing Rose in a Desert Landscape

General Notes:

  • Spray your roses with a jet blast of water three times a week. This is the best proactive method to keep your roses healthy.
  • Put down mulch to keep soil from drying out.
  • Be sure to dead head your roses this month to continue this bloom cycle while our weather is still favorable.


Note: Always water your roses thoroughly the night before you fertilize.

  • Week 1: Use one cup of organic fertilizer like Max Magic Mix or homemade compost. Scratch the dry fertilizer into the ground and water in again.
  • Week 3 and every other week after: Use a water-soluble fertilizer with a hose applicator. Spray the rose leaves and buds as well as a thorough soaking of the soil.
  • Week 4: Apply a dose of fish emulsion to help get the microorganisms going.

Pests and Fungi: aphids and mildew:

Aphids: Use Bayer Rose Spray or Safer Insecticide once a week per bottle instructions to wipe them out.

Mildew: Keep in check by using a good fungicide. It is best to fungicide as a preventative for mildew on a weekly basis, rather than waiting for the problem to show up. It’s harder to prevent damage once it’s started.

Thrips: They attack the rose blooms and turn them brown. A simple way to keep them under control is to get a small plastic spray bottle with your favorite rose spray and spray the buds directly as they are starting to open. Do this once a week at least.

Water – Daytime Temperature guidelines:

Deeply water your roses. Potted roses need deep watering every two days when in the 80’s and daily in the 90’s.

Take your opening roses inside to enjoy the intense fragrance this month! Too bad I cannot share this with you in these posts!!


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Your Potted Desert Edible Garden

May Planting: You will want to get a jump on these veggies and herbs this month.  Be sure to protect your tomatoes with shade cloth as the sun’s intensity increases.


  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Sweet Potato
  • Tomatillo
  • Jicama
  • Eggplant
  • Pepper (by mid-month)


  • Basil
  • Mexican-oregano
  • Mexican-tarragon
  • Cuban-oregano

Anyone have a recipe to share?

Desert Potted Winter Kitchen Garden

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The Beginning of Our Desert Summer Potted Garden

Potted Garden Provides Focal Point to Desert GardenThe heat is coming!!! NO doubt about it – we do live in the desert! This picture above is a great example of how you can have flowers all summer long. And no, the cactus is not growing up in the same pot. It is against the wall, far from the container!
Here is this month’s checklist for your potted desert garden:

• Plant your summer flower pots
• Finish the planting of cactus & succulents
• Plant summer vegetables and herbs
• Place shade cloth over newly planted cacti & succulents to avoid sunburn
• Shade tomato plants
• Continue to increase watering and irrigation to your floral potted gardens
• Fertilize potted (and ground) citrus trees around Mother’s Day

What to plant this month
Ml corner potsShrubs:

• Yellow Bells
• Lantana
• Sky Flower
• Bird of Paradise species

Perennials and groundcovers including:

• Gazania
• Chocolate Flower
• Trailing Lantana
• White Plumbago
• Rain-lilies

Summer flowers

• Vinca
• Verbana
• Portulaca
• Gomphorena purple buddy
• Perslane
• Pentas
• Celosia
• Salvia
• Zinnia
• And many more!

The important thing is – Have fun!!

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