Make No Little Flower Pots
So the container gardening season has gotten off to a bumpy start, what with the Great Daffodil Disaster of 2017. Nonetheless, I took a few days off this week and I couldn’t restrain myself from filling the pots with spring flowers. Also, I started the year with some changes to my approach to flowering containers.
For starters, I got rid of all but a few of the smaller pots. Some went into the recycling and the remainder were stacked in the garage, which has plenty of room as long as we don’t try to park one of our cars in it.
After adding a couple of new pots, almost all of our containers have an inner diameter of 14″. Larger containers appealed to me for two reasons: they have more visual impact, and they are less prone to drying out.
There’s just a couple of 10″ containers that remain. These I kept to fill an old coal scuttle and some other items we like to use as planters.
In addition to going large, this spring I’m using just three different container annuals. I was impressed by an article in Garden Design about Annie Hayes of Annie’s Annuals, where she says she fills each of her pots with just a single kind of plant.
I could see how this would create containers with greater visual impact, especially seen from a distance. I intend to use this simpler approach to my summer containers as well, which will be a greater departure from past practice.
Anyhow, this year I’m restricting myself to just three of my favorites. There’s Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima), mostly ‘Easter Bonnet Lemonade’. I like to use this to underplant container tulips, but I’m also filling whole containers with just this annual.
Sweet Alyssum is wonderfully fragrant. Plant it about 5″ apart (half the recommended distance) and it will soon spill over the sides of your containers in a very appealing way.
Then I planted two varieties of Stock (Matthiola incana), the 18″ tall ‘Vintage Copper’ and the shorter ‘Harmony Mix’. Stock, like Sweet Alyssum, is wonderfully scented.
Here’s a little botanical humor.
Q: Where does one go to purchase Matthiola incana?
A: To the stock market. (Hat tip to Peter of Outlaw Garden).
Lastly, I planted some white and yellow Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana ‘Delta Pure Yellow’ and ‘Delta Pure White’). Pansies are cheerful and cold-hardy, I could not imagine spring without them. Like most people, I love the Pansy faces, but from even a short distance I think the solid color ones look much better.
Spring has been a bit tardy this year and the little plants I purchased had only a few flowers (or none in the case of the Stock). Tell the truth, I snatched some out of the cold frames at Anton’s, which makes me something of a horticultural cradle robber.
While working the containers I located the crowns of several Hostas I had planted last year. There was no sign of new growth, but they weren’t obviously dead either. After my experience with the Daffodils, I will monitor those containers with grim vigilance.
I also tried overwintering Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) in one of the containers. That experiment turns out to have been a failure as well.
Have you planted in containers with spring flowers this year?