Container Gardening Annuals
Zone 5 & 6 Container Gardening – My Favorite Annuals for a Sunny Location:
There are few things in life that can give you the instant gratification that a container garden can. All you really need to get started is a container with drainage holes, some quality potting soil, and a few healthy plants. Get creative and have fun with it!
I like to arrange containers in groups of three…usually in varying heights. Always loving a bargain, I’ve found most of my pots at end-of-summer closeout sales. One of my favorite groupings consists of three pottery containers in vivid shades of purple, green and cobalt. Yes, I need to take a photo soon.
There are so many cool container choices now…I have a combo of plastic and ceramic. For larger pots, I really like the plastic ones that look like aged stone. They’re great because they are classy looking, lightweight, and you can still move them around even when they are filled with soil and plants. If they were real stone, you’d need a forklift!
A few tips for success:
Select plants that will be happy with the same amounts of water, sun, heat and food. When you are choosing plants for your container make sure that they will “play well together”. If you combine plants with different needs, some of them will not thrive. So, if you have a plant that requires full sun, you want all the plants you choose for that pot to also require full sun. If you have a plant that likes to dry out between waterings, you don’t want to put it in a pot with plants that like moist conditions.
The best way to determine what a plant requires, either check the plant tag or if there isn’t one, ask a salesperson, or look it up online. Try to do your research beforehand so you aren’t overwhelmed when you go shopping for your flowers. With so many colors and types on display, it’s easy to become a deer in the headlights. I like to save my plant tags in plastic sheet protectors for future reference. It makes it so much easier the next year to know what worked and didn’t, what I liked from that season, great color combos…etc.
Make sure to use a good potting soil mix, not garden soil. A mix with peat, perlite or vermiculite will retain moisture longer and yet be well draining. (Garden soil is too heavy and can be chock full of weed seeds, bugs, and bacteria — stuff that you definitely don’t want in your pots…plus it may not drain properly).
Instead, use potting soil (also called potting mix or container mix). Potting soil is well aerated, sterile, lightweight, and made of a good balance of organic material and mineral particles like peat, sand, or perlite. You can purchase bags of it at garden centers, hardware and discount stores, and home improvement chains.
Lack of water can quickly kill plants in a container garden. Unlike plants grown in the ground, container plant roots can’t move down deeply in search of subsurface water. Check containers daily for water needs in hot or windy weather. They can shrivel up in no time…but can usually revive with a good soaking.
Now on to some of my favorite plants for Zone 5 & 6 Container Gardens:
* Vincas – Look like impatiens, but loves the sun. My plants of choice for “brown-thumb” types ; ) Easy to grow!
* Zonal Geraniums– What’s not to love! Just remember to deadhead so they keep blooming all season.
* Lantana – Drought tolerant, very colorful and attracts butterflies.
* Petunias – Easy care and the wave trailing varieties look great cascading down your container sides.
* Coleus – Grown for their colorful foliage, so many stunning combinations! One of our favorites is called, “Dip’t In Wine” …
* Calibrachoa – Fantastic colors plus hummingbirds and butterflies love them. I just planted ‘Can Can Orange’ in a container garden. Gorgeous color! Looks especially good paired with purple and yellow flowers.
* Scaevola – Trailing types are great in pots and hanging baskets. I’m partial to the lavender-blue ones.
* Dahlia – Vigorous, upright, mounding plants in a range of colors.
* Begonia– Great bloomers all season, like well drained soil.
* Lobelia– Versatile plants that do well in containers, hanging baskets and window boxes.