Plants for Containers by Gladys Jeurink

You can use practically any annual when doing a container arrangement. If you like plants to droop over the edges, bacopa and cascade petunias work well. For short plants there is a great choice of petunias, marigolds and the fairly new Profusion Zinnia which comes in a red or an orange. Asters can be planted for fall bloom as well as dwarf dahlias. You can use your favorite perennial in the pot and treat it as an annual.

Annuals that need water will not do well as they may need to be watered as much as twice a day during hot weather. Geraniums have done well for me in containers. The trailers such as bacopa and cascade petunias will need water as they are generally placed near the edge of the pot. Tuberous and fibrous begonias do well if in a lightly shaded area away from the wind. So does coleus which needs to be deadheaded even before the bloom opens. Most of the herbs do not like wet feet and do well in pots so use your containers for an herb garden.

Perennials need more care as clay pots will freeze in the winter and break if wet when frozen. Also, roots are damaged in being above ground during freezing weather. Since pots dry out rather fast, some attention must be given to watering during the winter months. Some years, especially lately, Iíve had perennials survive in large (20 inches or more), plastic or foam pots. Do not plant close to the edge of the pot as frost will penetrate through the walls. Many lily bulbs are hardy to Zone 3 so I have had them survive several winters. Ask your local greenhouse or extension agent to know your zone. This past year a Heuchera did fine on the South side of the house in a container. A number of others will survive if you pull the pots into the garage or another building over the winter. Remember the soil must not get desert dry or remain soaked.

In most arrangements there is at least one tall plant. The new dark leaved millet shows off any of your other flowers as does the red leaved fountain grass such as Purple Fountain Grass. If you hunt you can find variegated grasses. Dwarf cannas make for a good tall center piece. Be careful about using Dahlias as their stems snap easily up there in the wind. Many varieties of coleus are good for planters in the shade. In the last few yearsí sun loving coleus have arrived!!! Impatiens are another shade plant that grow beautifully in containers. Have fun visiting your local greenhouses. They are full of a  variety of ideas.