There are a number of small plants that make a small space look
good. I like at least 3 of
each when planting so it doesn’t look “patchy”.
Even there I like at least one tall plant, much like you are
planting in a container. My favorite lately has been
don’t get too tall, but if you nip the highs out, the base can get
very wide. Any color you like is probably available even an orange
(Sedona). On a south
exposure they droop easily without plenty of water.
The two biggest ones I have had (in a container) are “Fish Net
Stockings”, an amazing color combination that looks like a net with
its black veins. A plant
many times mistaken for a Coleus is the Perilla padella.
Both grow three feet tall and wide and work very well for your
big plant. This Perilla is
not the hardy one that seeds all over your yard and is deep purple.
It is not hardy in Southeast and South Central Nebraska.
A few years ago
several garden writers on container gardening had three necessities:
A thriller-the big,
outstanding center piece or background.
Some use an evergreen for this;
A spiller-a plant that
droops over the edge;
Filler-these are plants in
the majority of the container.
This plan could work
just as well for a small space. If it is just a corner, that small
evergreen as the thriller would prevent winter from being bare.
The Dwarf Alberta Spruce (Picea glauca) does well here. I have
years old but only 6 feet high so it can be in a container for years.
The spiller can
be your favorite short plant to edge the area. It probably cannot
“spill” very far or get in your path. If you are a
If your edge is
sunny then Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora) blooms from early summer to
frost with many colors, some double and some single, 4 to 6 inches high.
They will reseed your area for years to come.
When I pull plants in the fall I generally shake them to loosen
the seeds. You will probably
get too many plants when you do this but they are easy to thin. Or you
can use Impatiens that get 6 to 12 inches or Alyssum (Lobularia sp.)
that get 4 to 6 inch and blooms all summer if you have a sunny border.
The Alyssum requires a little more water.
fillers!!! They can be almost any of your favorites that don’t get too
big. You can find a Zinnia of any height for the dry spaces with many
colors and blooms. There is
even a creeping one!
prefer perennials in their beds to avoid replanting every year. I like a
mixture so it is different every summer. Perennials usually don’t
bloom as long as annuals and a clump of brightly colored Swiss Chard
(Bright Lights) is always in color to liven things up.
My tallest pot
plant this summer was a deep purple Russian Kale.
It grew about 4 feet tall and 1 1/2 feet wide with curly leaves.
In its pot I also had lavender colored Osteospermum.
After the Pansies retire I like a pot or two of Brassica plants
(cabbage, brussel sprouts, kale, etc.). The prettiest to me is the
flowering cabbage with its red, pink, or white centers. Just one makes a
table centerpiece as it looks like a big Rose about 18 inches across.
Ordinary frost don’t touch them so they are around for Thanksgiving.
My tallest garden plant was the 7 foot tall “Love-in-a-Puff”,
also known as “Hairy Balls”. It is a tall rather slender plant that
was so heavy with hairy balls I had to prop it up.
Now the task is
to get the yard cleared enough so that nothing suffocates, especially
next spring when the residue is wet and heavy.
I try to get it pulled away from my little trees so it doesn’t
make a home for mice or moles or other creatures who like to eat bark.
The birds haven’t gotten the