Claude Monet claimed his gardens were his most beautiful masterpiece. It is no wonder when we see the way he reflected their beauty in his paintings. Monet lived a long way from the Sonoran Desert, but there is no reason for desert landscapes to be devoid of color. This article begins a new series on flowers to plant each month so you can add color to what might otherwise be just another ho-hum planting space. While other parts of the country are digging out from under snow in January, desert dwellers are already planning spring gardens and sowing their outdoor spaces with seeds that will produce a profusion of color in weeks to come. So, what can be planted in January? Let us begin with our featured flower of the month.
African Daisy – Featured for January
The African Daisies (also called Cape Marigolds) are approx. 1.5 inches in diameter. There are orange, yellow, white, pink, and lavender varieties. These little beauties like full sun. They are often planted in fall for winter color, but they can still be planted in January and February and will thrive until temperatures rise much above 90°F. Expect flowers from February through April. Plants grow to approx. 12 inches tall. They originated in South Africa and so they are no strangers to arid conditions. They love thirsty desert conditions and in fact, will get “leggy” if given too much water. Plant from seed in well-drained soil, and best of all they will reseed themselves year after year. Use for borders, containers, or even as a ground cover.
Here is a short list of more flowers to whet your appetite and spark your inner Monet:
- Ageratum – Clusters of lavender-blue flowers grow on tightly formed plants.
- Alyssum – Tiny white or purple flowers with a honey-like scent grow on a bed of delicate leaves. Makes a nice border or ground cover.
- Bachelor Button (also called Cornflower) – Resemble miniature carnations with pointed petals and come in a variety of colors. Refrigerate seeds a week prior to sowing. They are great for dried flowers.
- Blanket Flower (also called Gaillardia or Brown-eyed Susan) – Globular centers with radiating petals approx. 1.5 inches in diameter. Showy blossoms with petals of one color and tips in a complimentary color. Usually seen in yellow/orange or red/orange combinations.
- California Poppies – Bright orange-yellow cup shaped flowers with a single row of petals, 2 to 3 inches in diameter.
- Clarkia (also called Fairy Fans or Farewell to Spring) – Blossoms 1 inch in diameter commonly have a single row of petals while some varieties look more like carnations.
- Four O’clocks – Trumpet shaped flowers come in a variety of colors and some plants will even produce multiple colors. They are fragrant and usually open according to temperature, closing during the warmer hours and opening in the evening.
- Hollyhocks – Large showy plants reach 4 to 8 feet in height. Flowers come in a wide variety of colors. Flowers resemble small hibiscus.
- Larkspur (also called Delphinium) – Large variety of colors and blossoms are shaped similar to orchids. They make an excellent choice for cut flowers. Plants grow up to 4 feet tall.
- Phlox – Fragrant flowers grow in dome-like clusters. Many colors are available.
- Pincushion Flower (also called Scabiosa) – Long-stemmed flowers that slightly resemble pins in a cushion are approx. 2 inches wide. Many colors and varieties are available.
- Strawflower – Two-inch wide flowers usually seen in yellow or orange are beautiful in dried arrangements.
- Sweet William and Carnations (also called Dianthus or Chinese Pinks) – Small flowers and large flowers come in a variety of colors.
- Verbena – Clusters of tiny flowers on feathery leaves are good for borders or ground cover. Several colors are available.
If those are not enough to tickle your green thumbs, January also is a perfect month for planting bare root roses and summer bulbs. So, if you have been sitting back waiting for spring, dust off your trowels and don those gloves. It is time to get planting!