Colorful container combinations can liven up your outdoor living areas. Kaleidoscopes of pink, red, purple and yellow mixed with fabulous foliage and grassy texture casts much needed allure to patios and landings. Grouping many plants in the same container provides layers of appeal. Choose three to five plants per container to maximize the look of your creation.
Penstomen, salvia, and rudbeckia all make excellent installations to satisfy the taller plant in the combination. Penstomen is one of the easiest perennials to grow. It is available in many colors with an exceptionally long bloom season from May through October. Their trumpets shaped flowers are highly attractive to hummingbirds. Salvia is a huge family of plants. Salvia Mystic Spires, Salvia Wendy’s Wish, Salvia Heatwave, and Salvia Hot Lips are all definite thrillers in a container. Rudbeckia are also fabulous as a taller member in an container. Single and double blossoms of yellow with dark eyes will keep your planters in color from June through October.
Foliage plants always add interest to container plantings. Coleus is one of the best, most user-friendly foliage plants. The new selections out these days can tolerate hours and hours of sun. Helichrysum is another excellent foliage plant with hazy textured leaves of gray, lime green and variegated. Ipomea plants can be used as foliage and a cascading selection. Spade shape leaves of dark bronze, lime green and tri-color tumble their way over a rim eventually hitting the floor.
Ornamental grasses and grass-like plants are very popular. Stipa grass provides tons of motion in a container. Tiny blades are grouped tight together, blonde fridge looking tips add motion with the slightest breeze. Cordyline Electric Pink and Electric Star both are sturdy, showy grass-like plants. Japanese forest grass can be installed into a container to be both foliage interest and texture.
Invest in good potting soil for productive container plantings. Fertilize regularly, depending on the plants you choose to install. Do you want better blooms, feed your plants with 2-10-10 water-soluble fertilizer.
Thick wall containers make better vessels for plants. Thin plastic containers dry out too quickly. If you can, plant in concrete, terracotta or glazed ceramic containers.
Have fun, try new plants and group contrasting perennials together. You’ll be creating thrilling plantings.
Nicole Hackett is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio and Gardens, located at 6780 Marsh Creek Road in Clayton, 925-672-0207.
Nicole writes for the Clayton Pioneer Newspaper, and Claycord.com. She is also the Clayton Valley Garden Club 2012 President.
photo credit: Barry Hart