Have Fun Creating Container Beauties

A container filled with blooming plants will bring you great joy throughout the summer. The plants you select should be tailored to the type of conditions meaning how much sun or shade they will receive. Use your imagination and try to picture what you want your combination to look like. Do you envision a tropical blend, all white, foliage, moon garden, butterfly garden, purple and orange, vegetables or herbs. Each year new plants are promoted based on excellent performance, floriferousness, flavor, colors, habit, etc. I chose a few examples for container combinations but follow your instincts.


If you need a container, I recommend clay because it allows the soil to breathe due to its porosity. A larger container is a good idea because the soil will stay moist longer. This quality of a clay pot is important especially if you will be traveling. Be sure that the container drains well. It is critical to avoid excess water which will cause plant roots to rot or decay resulting in wilting followed by complete loss of the plants. I always place some pieces of broken clay pots in the base of the container to ensure it has adequate drainage and then follow with potting soil. Generally, a mix of equal parts loamy soil, compost, and coarse sand works well. Note: pots seem to take more soil than you think they will need so buy a large bag. Or blend a large amount.


As you select your plants, consider the importance of how many plants you will need. I recommend you pack your plants in tightly which means you will need more than you think! Other considerations, and this is where your imagination comes into play, are balance, contrast, colors, and texture. The following ideas are simply a guideline. If you are unable to find specific plants, use similar ones that can easily be found at a good nursery. In addition, you will find certain new cultivars have variations with many different colors so you can blend your own favorite color combinations. When placing weeping plants at the edges it can be helpful to angle out the plants to encourage cascading.


Summer Flowering Blend with cascading flowers


Calibrachoa x Superbells Coral Sun - graceful trailing stems fall over the container, blooms all summer, self-cleaning, and is loved by hummingbirds

Verbena `Vanessa Bicolor Indigo’ – a vigorous, trailing annual with violet and white flowers, a strong grower that will bloom through summer

Canna `The President’ – big and bold, plant this towards the center of the container, the red flowers will attract hummingbirds and it will bloom all summer

Pentas ‘Beebright White’ – an upright plant; the flowers are a major attraction for butterflies; blooms all summer


Other great choices: Angelonia `Aria Blue’ – a lovely upright blue flowering annual that holds up to our intense summer heat

Salvia `Black and Blue’ – flowers are a rich electric blue - if deadheaded, it will bloom all summer, plants can get up to 3 feet tall so it is best placed in the center of a container – loved by hummingbird and butterflies

Impatiens hybrid Sunpatiens `Rose Glow’ – these New Guinea type impatiens thrive in full sun or partial shade and bloom throughout the summer, they come in many great colors, pinks, coral, white

Zinnia `Double Zahara Cherry’ – grows to 14 inches tall, disease resistant, a long season of bloom, grow in full sun.

Scaevola aemula `Surdiva Blue Violet’ – comes from Australia and is one of the most heat tolerant annuals, deep violet-blue flowers, low growing, great for containers or hanging baskets



Shade Summer Blend


Begonia `Santa Cruz’ – lovely, deep orange red flowers on cascading stems, graceful habit, will attract hummingbirds

Caladium `Hot 2 Trot’ – the leaves are beautifully shaped and have bright red centers with green margins

Coleus (Solenostemon) Main Street Series – really beautifully colored foliage, they do well in shade and grow to around 2 feet

Ferns make an excellent foliage plant in shade containers. Their texture and beauty of greens can soften and break up hot colors. Consider growing the autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora) or the holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)



Gorgeous Summer Herbal Blend for Sun (these are not new selections)


Cymbopogon citratus lemon grass – beautiful leaves and a great plant for the center of the container

Thymus x citriodorus `Aureus’ golden lemon thyme – perfect to fall over the edges of the container, leaves are a stunning gold and green, fantastic for use in flavoring

Petroselinum crispum `Sweet Curly Parsley’ - Curly parsley is so attractive, so incredibly great in the kitchen and extremely nutritious. Flavor is sweet and nutty

Ocimum basilicum `Genovese’ – considered the best of Italian basils for its intense flavor, gorgeous shiny green leaves