A Moveable Feast Of Summer Color
Flowering containers are like a feast of color, a concentrated burst of plants. TheyÂ draw the eye and give an appetizing presentation of foliage and blooms to delight the viewer.
Unless theÂ flowering containersÂ are so large and ungainly to make moving improbable, most can be transported to other parts of the garden. Blooming plants in pots have become my favorite way to brighten up the garden with annuals. Much easier than planting beds of them, or trimming and filling in perennial borders.
Benefits of Pots
With plants in pots, one doesn’t worry about the sun exposure or time of year, not in the sense of some permanent way. We can move the whole planting into more or less sun, start our seeds later than usual for flowering fresh in the middle of summer (when most annuals look a little tatty), and bend the rules a bit because we can. It is a very flexible way to garden.
You can never do that with a fixed flower bed.
With flowering containers, small failures are easily filled in. Hot weather may result in cool-loving annuals melting out, but replacing them with new plants is not only easy, itÂ mayÂ make an improvement on the whole plant arrangement.Â ConsiderÂ giving a flowering potÂ an entirely new look with commonÂ houseplants… draceanas, asparagus fern, airplane plants (Chlorophytum comosum), to name a few.Â
Annuals inÂ Containers
The combination possibilities are endless. If you have need of recipe ideas for your containers I have manyÂ pages.Â Pinterest has turned out to be a treasure trove of creative and artistic ideas for gardening.
Container How-to Pages:
- ContainerÂ Gardening
- Recipes For Annual Plant Combos
- 5 Container Ideas And Tips
- Bring Color Where You Want It
How To Keep Annuals Blooming?
Annuals sometimes get straggly and seem spent by mid-July. Follow these tips to keep them looking fresh and put on new bloom.
- Choose annuals that will take the heat of summer, some cool season types fizzle out as soon as summer heats up
- Water daily, fast draining soil mixes should not be allowed to dry and stress the plants.
- As blooms are spent, snip off the heads. In July, when the entire plant looks a bit ragged, give it a haircut to refresh blooming.
How to Put the DesignÂ Together
You have most likely heard of the “thriller, spiller,Â filler” concept.
Thriller= big, bold, and dramatic looking plant
Spiller= a vining or loose plant the foams or drips over the edges
Filler= filling in the mid-ground of a pot with a full looking bloomer that is covered with flowers.
Recipes: Combine the Three Component Plants
Of course, each of those varies from my shorthand description, but that is the idea in a nutshell. To reduce the idea into an even easier way to use it, think of it as a play on contrast.
Thrillers take Center Stage
Big, spiky, strong color contrasts with rounded, less powerful color, and softer texture. Create drama and interest with “difference”. In other words, you don’t have to follow the “formula” -have fun with your containers and create new ones each season.
The same design elementsÂ are used on the large scale in all garden design, but this is a concentrated space, planted for visual impact.
Many beautiful plantings are created with only the foliage as the source of color and design. These seem most effective in shady places.
Many of the “thriller” or centerpiece plants are made up of spiky tropical plants, of the tender perennial types, even houseplants, but I like other plants Just as well.
Summer flowering bulbs such as Dahlias certainly fill the bill when we are looking for drama and effect. Those would be the larger varietiesÂ with full blooms. DahliasÂ are also bred in dwarf sizes and those could be used for lower in the composition as filler material.
I really like Nicotiana, and there are types that are tall and stately and others which are shorter. They make a wonderful center and are fragrant.
My Favorite Container Recipe Ideas:
I love Geraniums (actually Pelargoniums), tender annuals with bright flowers and sometimes gorgeous variegated foliage. The vining ones are natural “spillers”, and the others are wonderful centers to the arrangement of plants, billowing up in levels of artful leaf with prongs of flower clusters in red, pink, white, or even purple.
If you have a plant of Heliotrope, and a sunny spot for it, place this deep purpleÂ flower withÂ corrugated foliage and fragrance in the thriller space. This year I added blue petunias and nemesias for Â a harmonious mix of primarily blue to violet colors in a cool jade green ceramic pot. Monochromatic combinations like this are easy. The plants are often found in harmonizing or contrasting pink and white, also.
CalibrachoaÂ and wave petunias both have smaller flowers but lots of impact and exciting colors, I love to mix them in with bolder plants. Especially the sunset colors which seem to blend well with other shades, even though you wouldn’t expect that from orange shades.
Osteospermums are another love for a sunny container, and putting together ‘Lemon Symphony’ withÂ Bronze Carex Ornamental Grass, or Â a pretty lilac like ‘Soprano Purple’ with aÂ Purple fountaingrass (Pennisetum ‘Rubrum’) could start off some really striking combos. Fill in withÂ Calibrachoa or Angelonia and Bacopa. The Osteospermums are the familiar daisy shape, but with unusual color contrast.
Every year new varieties of this African daisy are introduced, and that makes it hard to exactly duplicate recipes. The trick is to look for new introductions that are close to old favorites in color and habit. Mixing up the colors a bit can bring a fresh accent to a tried and true favorite container recipe, too.