Flowering Container Notes, Summer 2012
I have a lot of containers filled with flowers. I did not plan for that to happen. The thing is, the containers that came with the bigger plants I’ve purchased were usually not recyclable. And it seemed wrong to just throw them away. So the logical solution was to keep them and use them as planters.
Of course, eventually Judy pointed out to me that these containers were really ugly. And she was right. But by now we were used to having flowers in containers on the front and back steps and elsewhere. So I bought replacement containers, mostly at Lowe’s. Then I threw the old containers away. So you see, in our consumer society, even an honest attempt to reduce waste eventually results in buying more stuff. (I still have a few of the sturdier and marginally less ugly containers that came with plants from the nursery.)
But what’s done is done. The question is, how are those containers doing? Let’s start with the front yard containers in sun.
Spring containers are always easy for me: just fill everything with pansies. Summer is the challenge. I still have a few pansies languishing in wait for the cooler fall weather, but most have been replaced with the following:
- Orange Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus). First time in my containers, and they are winners. Orange cosmos actually come in either red, clear orange or red streaked with orange. They definitely get your attention from a distance. Very good for filling in, but they also have more height than I expected. They’re easy to grow from seed. Will definitely use next year.
- Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias currasavica): These definitely have height, but otherwise I’m not too impressed. They are kind of gangly, and the orange-red flowers are nice but rather sparse. Won’t use again.
- Zinnias (Zinnia ‘zahara’): How can you not love zinnias? Only thing is, I was counting on them for a vertical element, and this year at least ‘zahara’ just isn’t that tall, the flowers are about the same height as the cosmos. May use a different variety next year.
- Star Flower (Penta lanceolata): Another first timer for me. Clusters of cherry red star-shaped flowers. Gets moderately tall. Very nice. Only thing, when they say full sun on this one they really mean full sun. I tried part sun on one plant and got zero blooms. Will use again next year.
- Ornamental Millet (Pennisetum glaucum ‘Jade Princess’): I really like this ornamental millet. I bought it on sale later in the season (just $2 for a 4″ pot at Anton’s). It’s supposed to grow 3+ feet, but mine seems to top out at about 2 feet. Will use again next year.
- Other Plants: I tried ivy geranium (Pelargonium peltatum) as a spiller, but so far it hasn’t spilled very much. Maybe it will with time. I used sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) and annual blue lobelia (Lobelia erinus) as fillers. I love sweet alyssum for the fragrance. If you place it right, it’ll do a good job of spilling over the edge of containers. Doesn’t love this really hot weather, but it’s hanging on and will have a resurgence in fall. On the other hand, blue lobelia just gets fried in this kind of summer, and adequate water doesn’t help. Too bad, because I love the color.
I’ll try to write about the backyard containers later. What have your container successes and disappointments been this year?