I was driving to a job site today and thought about the pansies that I have planted in the large jug pot I have. Last year was the second year of my pansies’ volunteers. I have an octopus agave surrounded by purple and white pansies in front of a large picture window. I like using the white because it pops more at night then the other colors.
Many people are surprised when I suggest incorporating annuals with a desert landscape design. Yes, you do need to be cognizant of the different watering schedules. Some combinations just do not work. I was doing a revegetation of a condo development and one of the first things that caught my eye was that the maintenance company had planted a blanket of petunias at the base of Queen Palms. This was all in a raised planter behind a water feature. The palms were in trouble because of all the extra water they were getting from the petunias. I do like mixing roses in the desert with low growing annuals and agaves in pots with annuals. Using contrasting colors will give you a stunning look.
Another thought for using annuals in a desert landscape design is planting these blooming color pockets surrounding shrubs that are currently not blooming. I once did this for a homeowner who was having an outdoor wedding in September. I went back around February and most of the petunias were still thriving. I did nothing special with the irrigation; in fact I did not even add any extra emitters.
I have multiple pots in my rear courtyard. I have tried soaker line, adjustable emitters and laser tubing. I like using adjustable emitters on a separate valve best of all. The laser tubing tends to over water as does the soaker hose also. Even using shorter lengths has posed problems in the past.
Now I don’t want to give you the impression that there is no extra work when using annuals in a desert landscape design. You will probably need to dead head the blooms and clean the dead or brown leaves. However if you have a little time the extra color you get is well worth it.
Do be aware of the plants you choose as far as their sun and heat tolerance. I usually replant my annuals every few months. That is not to say that I change every plant out, just that I take inventory if what can remain and what needs to be changed out.
One of my client’s main residences is in Oregon but they will be here for Thanksgiving. I need to replace about ten plants that have died but I think I am going to add some annuals here and there throughout the yard for some inexpensive extra color. People are always surprised to see annuals planted in combination with desert adapted plants. I was surprised to see the pansies that I planted in the pot with the Octopus Agave come back for a second year. Even if your annuals do not come back the following year, a six pack is only about two dollars and I think it is adding a nice touch in a desert landscape design.