It is fun and relaxing to create colorful displays of plants for window-boxes and/or containers. Selection, arrangement and location of your plants will determine the overall visual impact and success of your planting design. They will provide you with lush beauty from Mid-May until the first frost. It is best to plant annuals outside after the last frost- usually April 15 – May 1, in our area. Do not be afraid to experiment and above all – enjoy this gardening experience!
- Determine the amount of sun exposure your selected display area receives per day. If you have less than four hours of sun you will need shade plants. Some plants prefer morning sun rather than scorching afternoon sun. Others will be happy to sunbath all day long!
- Annuals or perennials: Annuals have a longer flowering period than most perennials. You will get five or more months of color from annuals if you plant them as soon as the last frost is past. Perennials with proper care will come back next year. If you choose to plant perennials in pots, beware of frost damage.
- A good display requires lots of plants. Don’t be afraid of over-filling your containers.
- Create balance: select a centerpiece plant, filler plants, edging plants and trailing plants that hang over the edge of the container.
- Use a potting soil when planting your containers; plants love the nutrients. If in doubt, ask a plant expert at your garden center for recommendations.
- When you first bring your plants home they may be root-bound. If so, gently pair away some of the roots so that the roots no longer wrap around each other. They will then spread out and down, enabling quicker growth. For planting in a container, make a hole twice the size of the root ball in width, but the same size of the root ball in height. This enables the roots to spread out without hitting a wall of earth which hasn’t been turned.
- Keeping your containers looking good by proper deadheading- snipping off the dead flower heads! When you cut off the flower head, cut right back to the stalk or back to the first leaf of the stalk. If you snip at the wrong place, you may be leaving the seed head behind; the plant won’t flower from that point again and will “go to seed”. Deadheading also prevents ‘die-back’ which occurs from the point of flowering and causes some plants to become woody and stop flowering.
- Fertilize your plants once a week with a liquid or leaf feed generates new growth and continuous flowering, right up until the first frost.
- Correct watering is critical. Take the guess work out of watering! Use a water meter to accurately determine the moisture in the soil. You may determine the moisture requirements by inserting your finger into the soil. If the first 2 inches of soil are wet, you don’t have to water. In hot weather you may have to water containers everyday. After a light shower, your plants may still require a good soaking.
SUN: plants for 4+ hours of direct sunlight.
Centerpiece: Canna, cleome, cosmos, dracaena (spike), ficus, geranium, gerbera daisy, heliotrope, hibiscus, lisianthus, marigold, nicotiana, ornamental grasses, salvia, snapdragon (10 inches or higher).
Filler: Angelonia, argeratum, begonia, browallia, coleus (sun-tolerant), dahlia (8-10 inches high) , dusty miller, geranium, marigold, petunia, rudbeckia, snapdragon(8-12 inches high), verbena, vinca, strobilanthes, zinnia.
Edging: Daisy, hypoestes, ivy geranium, lantana, nicotiana, pentas, plectranthus, scaevola, vinca.
Trailing: Alyssum, asparagus fern, bacopa, bidens, bougainvillea, dusty miller (trailing), gypsophila, helichrysum, ipomoea, ivies, ivy geranium, petunia (trailing), portulaca, scaevola, thunbergia, torenia, verbena.
Herbs & Vegetables: mix with flowers or use alone.
SHADE: plants for 4 hours or less of direct sunlight.
Centerpiece: Begonia (tuberous), browallia, caladium, dieffenbachia, dracaena (spike)philodendron, spathiphyllum.
Filler: Begonia (fibrous), begonia (tuberous), coleus, fuchsia, impatiens, lobelia (upright), New Guinea impatiens, torenia.
Edging: Begonia (fibrous), coleus, ferns, impatiens, lobelia, spider plant.
Trailing: Asparagus fern, begonia (strawberry), ivies, lobelia (trailing), vinca.