Tips for Colorful Summer Containers
Summer is here and spring flowers are looking weary. It’s time to transition over to heat loving annuals.
Annuals are any plants that are not hardy in your zone, so they die when cold weather hits and won’t come back next year. There are a zillion varieties of different annuals designed for loads of color all summer long, but availability varies greatly between nurseries. This can make planning a bit difficult, but with a few pointers, you can make choices on the fly at the store like a pro. If you would prefer to plan and have access to more plant options, you can buy seeds and plants from catalogs, thus opening up a wider range of possibilities.
Choosing a Color Combination
Try and stick to a color theme like hot colors (red, orange, yellow) or cool colors (blue, green, white). Pink and purple are kind of in the middle of the color spectrum and are nicely combined with any one other color, including each other. Green is of course present in most plants, but plants with chartreuse foliage really make any container pop.
Certain varieties of Sweet Potato Vine, Golden Creeping Jenny, and Coleus are perfect for this effect and are usually available at nurseries. Foliage can be a key player in containers since it will provide constant color and texture, unlike flowers that can sometimes be slow to rebloom.
The simplest way to plant a great looking container is to fill it with one type of annual (or even a single plant if it is large enough to balance the size of the pot). This helps make color choice a no-brainer and creates a bold visual impact.
Mixed Annual Containers
Mixed containers look best with plants of various heights. Try and combine one tall element (18-36”H) with one or two medium elements (8-12”H) and one trailing element. When using more than one type of plant, pay attention to watering needs and mature size.
Spacing requirements are less important, as plants in containers will have to be placed closer than recommended. I cram annuals into containers for instant results, plus if one plant doesn’t do well, there are others to fill in the gap.
You can get really creative with containers since you can literally grow almost anything in one. Many varieties of vegetables are easy to grow in containers, like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and carrots (if the pot is deep enough). Herbs also do well, and keeping the containers close to the kitchen will make it much easier to go pick some for dinner. Add a couple flowering annuals to create a pretty and edible container. Using perennials instead of annuals gives you twice the bang for your buck since you can plant them in your garden in fall. Large tropical plants also do well in summer heat and can make a big impact all by themselves or can be combined with other annuals. Palms, Bananas, Cannas, Elephant Ears, Ginger, and Angel’s Trumpet are all good options for a tropical flair.
For best results, remember to feed your container plants, especially flowering annuals. They are heavy feeders and go through a bit of transplant shock after they’re planted. I like to use a water soluble fertilizer about once a week to maximize blooms. By far though, the most important aspect is watering, remember that containers dry out fast and will need frequent water during the heat of summer.