What’s the best type of flower for your container garden? There are three essentials to consider:
The site: Where you garden is just as important as what you plant.
For instance, is your site one that gets 6-8 hours of sun a day? Great-you can grow all sorts of annuals, perennials, and vegetables that need this sustained amount of light.
Have a shade garden spot? How shady? A northern exposure is good to plant moss, and maybe some very low-light bloomers, but not much else. Other low-light locations offer many more options; in fact, there are loads of pretty flowers to plant in a shade garden.
In-between? Some sun in the morning and afternoon, but shade during most of the day? That’s ok-there are plenty of flowers and herbs you can grow in this setting.
How about weight? If you garden on the roof or balcony (or if you have hanging planters), weight is a factor in your garden planters. Use soilless potting mixtures and make sure to use outdoor planters within site weight tolerances.
Your Style: What types of flowers do you enjoy? When you look out your condo or apartment window, do you want to see a riot of color? Or are you in dire need of a calming Zen moment? Your flower choices will be based on the answers-and in these two cases, the plant selections couldn’t be more different!
If you tend toward lots of color and big, overflowing pots, try cascading petunias, or mounding tropical hibiscus. A more minimalist approach might be a monochromatic or bi-color palette, such as clay flower pots with lovely white calla lilies and trailing variegated ivy. Or perhaps a cloud-carved evergreen might be even better.
Your lifestyle: If you’re home a lot and love puttering in your garden, then lots of terra cotta pots (which dry out faster than cement or stone planters) filled with water-hogging flower types would be just fine for you. On the other hand, if you travel, or are just into low-maintenance living, maybe cacti and succulents are better choices.
Think through these issues. Your answers will define the sort of container garden that will please you.
Since sun and shade requirements are really important considerations, here are some container gardening ideas about what types of flowers you might use in three different light situations:
- Ferns. There are many fern varieties that thrive in shade gardens. Pick painted ferns with a silvery cast or other varieties in green. Ferns provide a refreshing look to your patio or deck planters.
- Plantain lily (Hostas) are perennial flowers that occur in varieties that thrive from full shade to full sun. These big-leafed statement plants send up pretty spikes of blooms in white or lilac come midsummer. (partial shade, depending upon variety)
- Patience Plant (Impatiens) are low-mounding prolific bloomers that glow in the shade. In warmer climates they’ll last year round and mound up quite tall. In cooler climates, they’re great shade annuals. (a part to full shade plant)
- Lady’s Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) are graceful low growers with scalloped-edged leaves and lime-green flowers. In the morning, dew collects in the leaves.
- Caladium have lovely heart-shaped leaves in lots of colors, from white through pink, red, and green. Great potted up singly or as an accent with a variety of flower types. (partial shade to shade)
- Pot Marigolds (Calendula officinalis) are very bright yellow to orange-colored annual flowers that provide blasts of color to garden planters. (tolerates part shade)
- Coleus, Painted Nettle (Coleus blumeii). Like caladium, coleus is also a showy foliage plant available in lots of colors including purples, deep reds, lime-green, and yellow. Can grow to 18 inches in the right conditions.
- Mandevilla (Mandevilla laxa) is a showy climbing tropical flower. Beautiful in pots with trellises, they bloom prolifically in shades of white through hot pink. (blooms best in full sun)
- Oleander (Nerium oleander) and Hibiscus, too, are wonderful when trained as standards with three-foot trunks topped by glossy green leaves and big flowers. Both types of flowers can be purchased in spring at most nurseries.
- African Daisy (Osteospermum) is just one type of daisy that blooms well in containers.
- Geranium (Pelargonium) and Petunias are two types of flowers that come in a variety of colors, bloom in full sun but can tolerate part shade, and come in flower types that both trail or grow upright. A summer container staple.
- Fanflower (Scaevola) is a wonderful trailing fan-shaped flower that thrives in sun and comes in both white and lavender.
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