One of the most enjoyable aspects of early summer is designing displays of annual flowers in containers. Today’s post is about the pots I’ve planted at the entry to the house. Every year I try something different here…a new color scheme, a different collection of pots, or a particular theme. This year I’m going with a sense of place (Cape Cod) and plants from Proven Winners.
Some of the Proven Winners plants used in this display were sent to me by the PW company, and others I got at the garden center. Some are new to me, and others are dear old friends. Here are the varieties I’ve planted, and how I go about designing and planting a container.
The first thing to consider when planting pots is where the container is going to be placed. That will determine what plants you can use, since you’ll want to use shade-lovers in darker areas and those that do best in sun in those bright locations.
Next, go for elements that contrast and those that repeat. Whenever possible you want both repetition and contrast in colors, shapes and textures.
Here are some tips that I’ve found helpful in potting up containers that last well all summer:
- Fill the container completely to the bottom of the pot, and don’t cover drainage holes. That means no rocks, shards, coffee filters or screening in the bottom of the pots. (Think you need rocks “for drainage? You need to read Coffee for Roses instead!)
- Use new potting soil…if the container is large or tall you might recycle some of last years mix in the bottom third of the pot, breaking it up if there are still roots there, and throwing in some fertilizer. But for the top 2/3 of the pot use fresh potting mix.
- Mix together equal parts of a time-release synthetic fertilizer and organic granular fertilizer and work this into the potting soil before you plant.
- You don’t have to loosen, cut or “tickle” the bottom roots on most plants, especially those grown in pots as these Proven Winners were. This practice is useful on really, really congested, root-bound plants but it’s gotten out-of-hand and can be more disruptive to potted plants than leaving them alone.
- For pots that are going on decks and porches, using “pot feet” allows better air circulation and ease of washing.
- Filling pots:
I fill the pot to near the top, and don’t pack it down much, but let the water settle things in. Since the soil is so loose I can easily push it aside to put each plant in place. After they are all in the pot I fill in any gaps with spare potting soil, knowing that over the course of several days and waterings the potting soil will settle in and sink down a bit more. I think that it’s a mistake to push the soil in hard, or to press the potting mix in around the plants since this compresses the air out of the mix and makes it harder for the plants to grow roots quickly.
My Proven Winners Porch, newly planted! I can’t wait to post more photos in two or three weeks. Given the fertilizer and room to spread their roots, these annuals will grow quickly and will start to put on a colorful show soon. More to follow!
Here is a complete list of the plants I used this summer. I was staying in the blue/white/yellow/coral/orange color range. Angelonia Angelface Wedgewood Blue, Euphorbia Diamond Frost and Diamond Delight, Cyperus Prince Tut (a smaller version of King Tut! Great fun), Calibrachoa Superbells Tropical Sunrise, Osteospermum Bright Lights Yellow, Sanvitalia Sunbini, Evolvulus Blue My Mind, Nemesia Sunsatia Blood Orange, Bidens Campfire Fireburst, Mecardonia Golddust, Cuphea Vermillionaire, Petunia Supertunia Limoncello, Portulaca Mojave Tangerine, Petunia Supertunia Honey, and Lobularia Snow Princess. On the ground in front of the porch is Verbena Royale Peachy Keen. To see all of these plants, go to the Proven Winners website and put these names in their search box.