Tag Archives: container planting

Container Gardening – Pointers & Possibilities…

Early spring in Birmingham….the temperatures fluctuate up and down, and it’s still early to be planting the real heat lovers like caladiums and vinca in the ground – oh, but your fingers are itching to dig in the garden again…

Trailing pink vinca works well with sun loving herbs of lavender, sage and chives in this trough planting....

Trailing pink vinca works well with sun loving herbs of lavender, sage and chives in this trough planting….

Here perennial lamb's ear mixes with lavender and a pepperomia - a common houseplant that also adds great texture...

Here perennial lamb’s ear mixes with lavender, sedum and a pepperomia – (a common houseplant that also adds great texture…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This sun lover includes pentas, scented geraniums, vinca and a 'Red Rubin' purple basil as well as a variegated Swedish ivy to meander through the entire composition...

This combination for sun includes pentas, scented geraniums, vinca, purple basil, and variegated Swedish ivy meandering through the entire composition…

Happily, you can begin planning your summer container plantings, which can also be great springboards for future garden groupings – testing them in a pot first is a safe and fun way to experiment.

This hanging basket for sun includes a sun loving caladium, angelonia, pink fan flower, trailing silver dichondra, and an airy white euphorbia...

This hanging basket for sun includes a sun loving caladium, angelonia, pink fan flower, trailing silver dichondra, and an airy white euphorbia…

 

 

 

 

 

 

These pictures are container combos from seasons past  – all lasted through the brutal heat of summer given water, deadheading and cutting back as necessary.

 

The old cliché of using a “thriller, filler and spiller” has been much used, (Maybe a little too much?) but don’t feel tied to it please! Designing creative plantings shouldn’t be absolute or bound by rigid rules.

'Indian Dune's' fancy leaf geranium, cordyline and thyme work in half day or full sun...

‘Indian Dune’s’ fancy leaf geranium, cordyline and thyme work in half day or full sun…

 

However, do try to combine plants that appreciate the same amount of light and water and have  growing habits that compliment one another.

 

 

 

If you can do that, any plant combo you like within those parameters is fair game. There are many plants that will handle a lot of sun but still appreciate a little shade, especially in the afternoon, when the heat is the most brutal. Others will need partial to full shade in our climate. The important thing is to choose  the right plants for whatever conditions you have.

Elephant ears add drama, with a heat tolerant fuschia, 'Gartenmeister' and a trailing maidenhair fern - this one was planted with a shady area in mind...

Elephant ears add drama, with a heat tolerant fuschia, ‘Gartenmeister’ and a trailing maidenhair fern – this one was planted with a shady area in mind…

The larger the container your space can accommodate the better! Not only will you be able to add more plants, but watering will be easier as well. Having said that, when maintaining large planters, if temperatures are in the 90’s every day and lows don’t get below the 70’s at night (July and August in Birmingham!), be prepared to water every day, even if your planters are in only half day sun. Of course, there are always exceptions…succulents, purslane, portulaca – these are a few plants that can take dry soil and heat, but even they will need water eventually!

Cordyline, fancy leaf geranium, baby tears...morning sun and afternoon shade or filtered sun suit this planting...

Cordyline, fancy leaf geranium, baby tears…morning sun and afternoon shade or filtered sun suit this planting…

Plant choices change weekly during the height of spring and it can be overwhelming…we’re happy to help you come up with the right combinations of plants for your containers if you’re unsure. Just be sure you know how much sun (or not!) they receive and the sizes of your planters,  and we can take it from there.

 

 

Another tip: Flowers aren’t always what adds the most pizazz. There are great foliage choices out there, many that add color with no blooms at all. Some of the most striking planters are those done with just foliage – try it sometime!

Foliage is as interesting as flowers!

Foliage is as interesting as flowers!

A shade planter - all foliage!

A shade planter – all foliage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Kris Blevons

 

Summer Container Gardens…The Heat Is On

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Owner, Billy Angell’s deck might not be finished yet, but his pots are!

It’s high summer with the 4th of July just past… time for vacations and lazy days at the lake, the beach, or maybe just spent lolling by the pool with a good book. I’m off on a much anticipated vacation to visit family and friends too, but I wanted to share a few more plantings first. If you are off and away, be sure to make arrangements for a friend to tend your plantings and container gardens so they’re as pretty when you return as when you left. No one wants to come home to a sad garden, after all.

Here, then, are a few plantings we’ve done recently:

All flowers...Pinkie's creations for a customer

All flowers…Pinkie’s creations for a customer

Flowers obviously add blooms for bees and butterflies. Pinkie used an assortment of flowers for a customer’s containers. She included pentas, lantana (The butterflies love them!), angelonia, million bells (calibrachoa), purslane, plumbago and salvias for loads of color. With plantings like this, it’s necessary to keep old blooms cut off (deadheading).

Container Planting for SunMany of the container plantings we do are in light, mâché pots that can either be used on their own or placed in another planter. Here’s one with a mix of sun coleus, a dracaena (Barely visible in this picture, it adds a spiky leaf.), lantana, red million bells to trail,  and a white angelonia. This planting will get much larger and fuller as the heat of summer settles in, and daily watering will be necessary.

The coleus will also need pinching back as it gets larger. This may seem difficult at first, but it’s really quite good for the plant and will allow it to grow fuller rather than getting leggy and scraggly. Think about it this way: Every time you cut it back, there will be two stems of colorful leaves rather than just one. It rewards you for your efforts!

Hanging Basket for Sun - Rhoeo spathacea, String of Pearls, Echeveria, ChivesThe white, cone-shaped hanging basket shown here is now home to a common houseplant, an herb, and some succulents. While it may seem an unusual combination, it’s working quite nicely and has a cool, summery look. The houseplant is a pink and green tradescantia (It’s also known as Rhoeo spathacea.), sometimes called Moses In The Cradle.

It’s keeping company with some succulent echevarias and trailing string of pearls, just beginning to peek over the edge of the basket in this picture. I added a pot of chives in the center, just for its spiky green leaves. This is hanging in the nursery waiting for someone to give it a home.

Container Planting - Summer - Part SunWe have a few tall, lightweight planters still available, and this planting shows one of them off. A tall, white ruellia (They’re sometimes called perennial petunia.) is combined here with a caladium whose leaves will get very large. The name of this one is ‘Garden White’, and it’s impressive! The large leaves will contrast nicely with the smaller leaves of the ruellia. Another foliage contrast is provided by the silvery-purple leaves of a strobilanthes, sometimes called Persian Shield. A beautiful foliage plant, it benefits from a cutback every now and then if it gets to lanky in the planting. To trail there’s a blue fanflower, scaevola.

Container Planting - Sweetheart Pink Caladium, Alternanthera 'Little Ruby', Blue Daze, Lime Potato Vine, under 'Carolina Sapphire' CypressFinally, since we had a few ‘Carolina Sapphire’ cypress left, they were candidates for a planting using smaller plants at the base to add fullness, color, and trail. These planters will be in the sun and can be changed out in the fall with the addition of pansies and other cold weather plants for the winter season.

For now, though, the underplanting includes dwarf ‘Sweetheart Pink’ caladiums, trailing blue daze, lime green potato vine, a new silver helichrysum, and the purple foliage of an alternanthera ‘Little Ruby’. Watering, clipping out caladium seed pods (It’s best to cut them off so the energy of the plant goes toward making new leaves.), and keeping the potato vine cut back (if desired) will be needed.

These are just a sampling of the plantings we’ve done this season. Plants that are available from growers change rapidly, and so do our offerings. Hopefully you’ve planted a few pots this summer and are enjoying them now!

Summer Shade Planters…Foliage and Flowers for Lasting Impact

As the hectic pace of spring gives way to summer and the necessary routine jobs around the nursery of  grooming plants, watering, and cleaning, it’s a real treat for us to be able to “play” and indulge our plantaholic ways. Truthfully, we do this as often as possible. First, because it’s just plain fun to try different combinations,  and, if a planter stays long enough to grow out, you can see the end result and we can explain how we maintained it. It’s a win-win situation for everyone! So, here is a gallery of planting combinations for shade that we’ve put together recently. When combining plants it’s necessary to understand light and water requirements for compatibility. If you know this, the next goal is to pair plants with contrasting leaf shapes, color, and texture. Echoing or contrasting flower colors and shapes will also factor into the design.

For Filtered Sun or Shade...

For Filtered Sun or Shade…

The first planter for filtered  or morning sun utilizes the big white  leaves of ‘Garden White’ caladiums, the airy white blooms and leaves of a euphorbia, a ‘Babywing’ Pink begonia, the grassy foliage of Carex ‘Evergold’, and the dark shiny foliage of hemigraphis, or waffle plant. There’s also a touch of a selaginella for a lighter green, low-growing skirt at the edge of the planting. Maintaining this will involve cutting any seed pods from the caladiums, removing any unsightly leaves and watering regularly. Urn - Juncus, Swedish Ivy, Alternanthera 'Ruby' Potato Vine 'Caroline Green'

 

The next is a simple planting using only foliage for contrasting color and leaves. Grassy juncus, variegated Swedish ivy, a tough alternanthera with reddish purple foliage, and a chartreuse potato vine provide as much color as flowers…and don’t need any deadheading! This combination only needs occasional clipping if necessary and regular watering.

Shade Planter For Summer

Caladiums and coleus should be go-to plants for continuous color and big, bold foliage. The dark leaved coleus in the very center of this planting will need to be cut back if it has overgrown its companions, and the caladiums will need seed pods removed to ensure the best leaf production. This planter is mostly caladiums and coleus, with the dainty white blooms of a euphorbia acting as a filler plant.  Pothos, a common houseplant, will trail over the edge and add even more color to this shady composition. In fact, many houseplants work well in these types of shady container gardens.

 

imageSometimes it’s fun to try a plant that’s more unusual as the centerpiece of a design. In this glazed pot the dark leaf of  the Alocasia is a beautiful contrast to the coleus, grasslike juncus, maidenhair fern, trailing torenia, and creeping jenny.

Shade Planter for Summer Finally, here’s a simple planting for shade using a begonia and the contrasting leaf and brightness of carex ‘Evergold’,  which will spill over the edge of the container. Simple, yet effective. The begonia will continue to bloom with a couple of cutbacks if it gets “leggy.”

Need help with container plantings in sunnier spots?  The next post will highlight some of the plantings for sun that we’ve designed recently.