Containers for Sun – August Update
It’s August, a good time to evaluate my plant choices for containers in sun, particularly those I am trying for the first time. There are some definite stars, and one surprising disappointment.
Firecracker Plant (Cuphea ignea). This guy is also known as Cigar Plant, but Firecracker Plant is both more descriptive and lacks the negative connotations. Either way, this plant has definitely been one of the garden stars, the hummingbirds think so too!
As an annual in zone 5, Cuphea grows to about 2′ and gets very bushy. Depending on the size of your pot it can be your thriller and your filler. The tubular red and yellow flowers and the red-tinged glossy green foliage are wonderful.
Unfortunately, Japanese beetles love Firecracker Plant as much as the hummingbirds. To prevent the damage from getting excessive, I’ve been picking the little bastards off daily and dropping them in a container of soapy water.
The Cuphea leaves were turning white during the first weeks after planting, and I feared they were infected. However, it was just a reaction to the colder than normal temperatures. These plants want a warm climate.
Salvia ‘Black and Blue’ (Salvia guaranitica). This plant always looks great in the containers at the Chicago Botanic Garden, so I expected something similar at home. In my containers, it is merely OK.
While the blooming got off to a good start, it has become increasingly sparse – not the case with my other container plants. Not sure what I am doing wrong.
Also, the stems are quite fragile. SInce our front walk is not all that wide, there are lots of broken stems as people brush past this plant. I doubt I will plant ‘Black and Blue’ again.
Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana). If you want something vertical, Mexican Petunia is 3′ tall, with an airy “see through” texture. I love the blue/purple trumpet-shaped flowers. I placed two of these on the landing behind the shrub rose ‘Cassie’ to contrast with ‘Cassie’s’ white flowers
This plant has been problem-free so far, a winner in my book.
The remainder of my sun container plants have been good to excellent. I planted Star Flower ‘Butterfly Red’ (Pentas lanceolata) for the first time last year, and I am still infatuated with the clusters of five-pointed flowers that draw hummingbirds and butterflies.
Floss Flower ‘Blue Planet’ (Ageratum houstonianum) is a tall variety that has been useful for adding blue flowers and a vertical element to containers.
Million Bells (Calibrachoa xhybrida) has been a reliable bloomer with a trailing habit that spills over the container edges. Ditto for Bacopa (Sutera cordata). I trim them back if they start frizzling in the heat.
How have your containers been faring in the sun? Do you have any new favorite plants?