Tag Archives: plant combinations

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

 

Mix It Up – Potager Style Container Planting

Flowers, herbs, veggies…who says you can’t mix it up and make beautiful combinations with them?

winter mix...

winter mix…

Dyron’s Restaurant, next door in the old market space, opted to keep the three horse troughs in front…they added a couple of charming painted wooden benches in between two of them and asked if we would continue planting and maintaining them.

fall/winter planting - lettuce, kale, chard, herbs

fall/winter planting – lettuce, kale, chard, herbs

 

 

 

 

 

 

The planters are large and perfect for a good mix of herbs and flowers…and they get a lot of afternoon sun. This past winter the photos above show the planting included kale and chard with green and red lettuce, curly parsley, dill, variegated lemon thyme, silver thyme and trailing rosemary. Pansies and violas were added for even more color – and they’re edible too! During the holidays I added red twig dogwood branches in the center of each trough for additional interest.

for summer - lots of herbs and some flowers too...

for summer – lots of herbs and some flowers too…

This spring I gradually pulled out plants as they played out – the kale was the first to go after it went to flower. (They’re actually quite pretty when they bloom or bolt – with pretty yellow flowers on tall stalks.) Next the chard, curly parsley and violas were pulled out, fresh potting soil added, some of the remaining thyme and rosemary trimmed and they were ready to be planted for the summer…

Bright colors look good in front of the newly painted dark brown of the new porch space, so for the flowers I opted for yellow and white Profusion and narrow leaf zinnias and red Dragonwing begonias. A little Osmocote was added under the flowers to feed them through long the summer.

Horse troughs planted with a mix of herbs and flowers for Dyron's Restaurant next door
Horse troughs planted with a mix of herbs and flowers for Dyron’s Restaurant next door

Next, herbs…for the center trough I put in a lemon grass – this will get quite large and should provide the chef with plenty of goodness! Next, sweet and purple basil – hopefully they’ll be cutting plenty of basil for summer dishes – the variagated lemon thyme and trailing rosemary were left in place – they’re doing quite well and seem happy.

The sage you see is ‘Berggarten’, a beautiful large leaf sage, and it’s complimented by ‘Downy’ lavender, grown primarily for the blue flowers that continue through the summer if they’re kept deadheaded.

Maintenance on these planters will involve pinching the zinnias back, keeping the basil and other herbs clipped, and hoping the Dragonwing begonias don’t get too enormous – but, if they do, a little judicious clipping should keep them in check. The zinnias will add a lot of color and should fill in nicely…
Watering daily will be a necessity as the summer wears on.

We’ll keep you updated as these horse trough potager plantings fill in this season! If you’re interested in container gardening and want more tips, take a look also at this post from earlier this spring – it also shows some combinations with herbs and flowers…

 

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