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Container Gardens for Butterflies and Hummingbirds

Summer is here, and so are the hummingbirds and butterflies we love to enjoy in our gardens. Even with a small space you can plant blooms in containers to encourage local butterflies and hummingbirds to stop in for a visit. 

For more information on pollinators:

In this post, we will primarily discuss summer plants for pollinators that grow well in containers. If you want to learn more about supporting local birds, bees and butterflies, you may be interested in our posts on hosting native caterpillars, planting for pollinators year-round, or attracting hummingbirds.

This purple pollinator container garden features petunias, angelonia, ageratum and gomphrena (design by Peg Bier, Merrifield Plant and Design Specialist).

Selecting Plants for Your Container Garden

Butterflies and hummingbirds both eat nectar from flowers. Both hummingbirds and butterflies will be attracted to brightly colored flowers whose nectar has a high sugar content.

Butterflies prefer blooms with flat landing pads where they can easily land to sip nectar. Hummingbirds prefer blooms that are accessible by their long beak while still in flight. Every gardener will have their own favorites and plants that they swear by, but here are some popular favorites we all agree on for the summer:

Perennials

  • Agastache
  • Asclepias (Butterfly Weed)
  • Coneflower
  • Coreopsis
  • Gaillardia
  • Gaura
  • Heuchera

Annuals

  • Angelonia
  • Begonia
  • Calibrachoa
  • Crossandra
  • Cuphea
  • Dahlia
  • Fuschia
  • Gomphrena
  • Lantana
  • Pentas
  • Petunia
  • Salvia
  • Zinna

There are many plants to choose from, but you may find that your local hummingbirds and butterflies prefer certain types of flowers.

This pollinator container garden features salvia, angelonia and lantana (design by Peg Bier, Merrifield Plant and Design Specialist).

Container Combinations

When creating a pollinator container, your creativity is just about your only limit. While you will want to use mostly pollinator plants, it is perfectly fine to combine other plants you love into your containers as well. Here are some ideas to get you started!

Fresh Pink and White

This combination of pink and white flowers looks natural while maintaining a curated color combination of pink and white blooms. This fresh, vibrant container combines perennial coneflower and heuchera with annual lantana, angelonia and pentas.

Vibrant Red and Yellow

This container makes use of deep burgundy coleus to bring together the vibrant red and yellow blooms. For this combination, you will need perennial coreopsis and euphorbia with annual dahlia and coleus.

Bold Multicolor

This bright, bold container includes salvia, crossandra, gomphrena, cleome and portulaca.

Container without Drainage Blog

How to Plant in a Container without Drainage Holes

Ideally, plant containers have holes for drainage when you purchase them, but as most gardeners know, the perfect vessel may not always come ready with drainage holes for your plants. We’ve all been there – you’ve found the most beautiful vessel for your plants, then get home and realize it doesn’t have a drainage hole.  Drilling a hole in these containers is sometimes an option, but if for any reason you not want to do so, it is still possible to plant in just about any container provided you take steps to create a more ideal environment.

Step 1: Layer the Bottom of the Container with Landscaping Rocks

Your landscaping rocks should be about 2-3 inches deep. For this project, we used pea gravel. ⅜ river jacks are another good option, or if you’re using a clear container, decorative stones in any variety or color will work just fine.

If you’re container is tall and needs more than 2-3 inches of rocks, cut landscape fabric to the size of the container and line the bottom with however many layers you need underneath the rocks. This works best with containers that you cannot see through since it is not particularly attractive. Just something to keep in mind!

Step 2: Add Horicultural Charcoal

Charcoal absorbs moisture from the pot, conditions the soil, and prevents odor. This layer is thin, and you should still be able to see the tops of some of the rocks after adding your charcoal. A little charcoal goes a long way.

Step 3: Fill with Potting Soil

Fill your pot about halfway to the top with soil. The amount you add during this step will depend on the size of the plant you have selected as well as its root system. We recommend our Merrifield Potting Mix, which is what we have used for this project.

Step 4: Transfer Your Plant

Remove your plant from its grow pot, loosen up the roots of the plant and then place in your container. Add additional soil to the pot where needed after the plant is in place.

Water and Maintain

To ensure you water your plant properly, check out our watering guidelines. If you have more questions, stop by or call one of our Merrifield Garden Center locations to speak with a plant specialist!

If you have any gardening pictures or tips, we would love to see! Tag us on Instagram or Facebook @merrifieldgardencenter for a chance to be featured on our page.

Herb Container Garden Collection

Creating Herb Gardens with Containers

Peg Bier, Merrifield Plant Specialist

There is value in seeing new possibilities when something you cherish dies. In this case, I recently had to remove a very old, large oak just off my deck. Where shade was present before, now there is sun. When the oak tree stood, my herb garden was in what I call my “South 40,” some distance from my kitchen, but the removal of this old tree has given me the opportunity to try moving it to a new location.

Now, in place of the tree, I have a large group of pots containing the herbs I love most and a lot of others I enjoy for their fragrance or use in cooking. They are within easy reach of my kitchen, which is ideal. I planted a cascading Japanese maple in a very large clay pot, and placed it on top of the 2 foot tall stump, thus creating a new staging area in the garden. On the shadier side of the tree stump, I’ve completed my new garden space with a large collection of annuals that are favorites of the birds and butterflies.

This type of herb garden is also something that can be achieved in small spaces. Even a sunny balcony can support a few of your favorite herbs.

Life in the garden is a learning curve and over time I have experimented with many things as I try to find the absolute best way to grow herbs. This time I am using four different potting soils for evaluation. Merrifield, Pro-mix, Espona and Foxfarms. So far they are doing equally well! After I place a piece of landscape fabric over the drainage hole, I incorporate a handful of organic Plantone, and a half handful of Greensand, Rock phosphate, and Gypsum into the soil mix. This has been working well for me, but may not be necessary for all gardeners.  Herbs don’t need too much fertilizer so I will observe to determine whether they need more during the growing season. I always hold the potting mix 2” from the top and cover with 1⁄2” small gravel (⅜” River Jacks) or Pea Gravel will work. This deters squirrels from digging and keep the soil in the pot when watering.

Herb Container Garden Collection

I choose large pots, most in excess of 16” because watering is easier. Small pots require closer monitoring. Water deeply so that the entire root ball is saturated and then again when soil begins to dry. Find that happy medium between too wet and too dry, and maintain with the proper amount of fertilizer. 

Plant the plants you love and will use frequently to cook with. I was born in the deep south where too many things were fried. Herbs came to my rescue and I learned to savor the various flavors they gave to a dish. Yes, fried chicken is a must now and then, but I rarely fry anything now. Salmon grilled with thyme and fresh dill is a party in your mouth!

Several herbs can be planted together in one large pot or the pot can be devoted to just one. I will have fresh young plants waiting in the wings for parsley, dill, and basil as they will not last the full season. I grow several varieties of Basil (sweet, thai, columnar and african), sage, thyme, oregano, chives, rosemary, lavender, and tarragon.

Container Garden with Herbs

Nasturtiums and marigolds provide color, are edible and beautiful garnish.

I did include cherry tomato and a habanero pepper plant. I hope the deer don’t harvest those! Herbs repel somewhat, are not tasty to deer, and cannot be sprayed with Bobbex, a natural spray that saves my other tasty (to deer) plants.

And so, where there is disappointment in a major loss of a big tree, I am now enjoying a particularly attractive and useful garden right under my nose. Yes, there is much fragrance and sensory delight! Harvest frequently and enjoy the organic, chemical free, delightfully tasty and diverse flavors of the garden!

Growing Tomatoes in Containers: A Video Tutorial

Plant specialist David Yost demonstrates the steps for planting tomatoes in containers that can be placed on a patio, balcony or deck.

Summer Container, Vinca, Calamint and Persian Shield

Summer Container Garden Inspiration

Container gardens are a great way to add color to any size garden, since they pack a powerful punch of vibrant blooms and foliage into one space. They are moveable, adjustable, and delightful additions to any garden. With summer still in full swing, now is the perfect time to create a colorful and exciting container for your home.

When choosing or building your container garden, the goal is to achieve the ideal combination of plants that thrill, spill, and fill:

  • Thrill plants draw your eye into the container, creating a focal point through height, color, bloom or texture.
  • Spill plants draw your eye down and through the container by trailing over the edge.
  • Fill plants are those that help to fill the voids in the pot. They typically provide contrast to your thrill plant and add interest

Our favorite aspect about container gardens is the customization—you can use any combination of plants that you enjoy to create one you love. Check out our step-by-step guide to creating a custom container garden, and take a look at our designs below if you want some inspiration. Of course, if you prefer to have some assistance putting yours together, our specialists are happy to help!

Summer annuals and perennials provide vibrant color even in the heat of the season. Here are some of our favorite plant selections for the season:

Our Plant Picks for Sun

(1) Celosia, (2) Pentas, (3) Rudbeckia- annual, (4) Cuphea (Mexican Heather), (5) Euphorbia, (6) Angelonia, (7) Ageratum, (8) Celosia, (9) Lantana, (10) Petunia, (11) Verbena, (12) Calibrachoa.

Our Plant Picks for Shade

(1) Tassel Fern, (2) Coleus, (3) New Guinean Impatiens, (4) Japanese Forest Grass, (5) Begonia, (6) Lysimachia ‘Aurea’ (Creeping Jenny), (7) Trailing Coleus, (8) Heuchera (Coral Bells).

Container Design Inspiration

Tropical Container with Elephant Ears, Coleus, Verbena

Clockwise from top: Elephant Ear, Trailing Coleus, Verbena, Petunia, Trailing Coleus. This dramatic container for sun makes a statement – elephant ears with their bold foliage and sweeping height grab attention and the vibrant colors of coleus, petunia and verbena complement it with color and blooms at the base. Add this container to any space for a tropical feel.

Summer Container Angelonia, Creeping Jenny

Angelonia (top) and Creeping Jenny (bottom). We love the simplicity of this container, which while only containing two types of plants, is still bursting with summer color and blooms. The elegant stalks of angelonia create texture and movement and the bright green of the creeping Jenny contrasts nicely with the blooms and dark green of the Angelonia.

Clockwise from top: Calamint, Bachelor’s Button, Iresine (Cherry Blood Leaf), Vinca, Iresine (Variegated Heart Blood Leaf). This vibrant container is packed full of cheerful vinca and vibrant bachelor’s button. Calamint—which has a lovely scent, cherry blood leaf and variegated heart blood leaf serve as the “thrill” plants drawing the eye upwards, while the vinca trails down the sides. This container will be bursting with color all season!

Summer Shade Container with Begonia, heuchera, Japanese stiltgrass and ferns

Clockwise from the top: Begonia, tassel fern, heuchera, Japanese forest grass. The tonal color palette and varying textures of this container will draw the eye to even the shadiest spot of a garden. Begonia provides a pop of color, while perennial Japanese forest grass, heuchera and tassel fern provide interest with contrasting textures and shades of green.

Caring for Your Containers

Here are some basics that will help you keep your containers healthy and beautiful during the summer:

  • Larger containers hold water better, so bigger is better when picking your size—you will need to water less with a larger container.
  • Since summer brings the heat, you will need to check your container for watering once or even twice per day. Only water when the soil is dry—and then follow our watering instructions and water the container thoroughly. If you are leaving town on summer vacation, create a watering plan for your time away! Ask a neighbor or friend to check on your containers every day and care for them as needed.
  • We recommend using a bloom boosting fertilizer to keep the blooms fresh all season. Miracle Grow Bloom Booster and Doctor Earth Bloom Booster, an organic option, stimulate new blooms and flowers and keeps them looking fresh in the summer heat. If you have a lot of containers, you can purchase one of these fertilizers with a hose end applicator to combine your watering and fertilization into one task. Lastly, make sure you deadhead the blooms as they die off in order to encourage further blooms and keep your container’s stunning appearance.
Tulips in Containers, Bulbs

Bulb Basics: Planting Bulbs in Containers

You can enjoy bulbs planted in containers on your balcony, deck, patio and even out in your garden. All of these spaces benefit from a pop of color come spring. As you plant your containers for fall and winter, try including a few bulbs to extend your containers into late winter and early spring. For example, one of my favorite things to do is to place bulbs underneath my pansies. As winter progresses towards spring, my bulbs emerge through the soil and fill the space between the other flowers with a fresh pop of spring color.

What you need to get started:

  • A container made of well-fired terracotta, high quality clay, ceramic, composite (poly), concrete or any other winter hardy material that is at least 14” in diameter. Make sure your container of choice has a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot. Remove all saucers so that the container does not sit in water.
  • Good quality potting soil—I enjoy using our Merrifield Potting Mix or Pro Mix.
  • Slow release, natural plant food such as Bulb Tone or Plant Tone. Plants need only small amounts of fertilization in winter.
  • Bulbs and plants as desired.
  • River Jacks (3/8”), Seminole chips or pea gravel. I add 1” of this small gravel to the top of the pot after it is planted to keep the squirrels from digging into the soil.
  • Small piece of landscape fabric to cover drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
Bulbs in Containers

Potting up your containers

Cover the drainage hole in the bottom of the container with your piece of landscape fabric. Fill the bottom 1/3 of the pot with your potting soil. Place your bulbs on the soil surface. If you’re planting above them, I recommend adding five to seven bulbs. Add 2 to 3” of soil on top of the bulbs and mix in your fertilizer.

Planting Bulbs in Containers
Container with Bulb Plantings below Pansy, Heuchera and Fern

Place your fall and winter plant selections into your container, loosening the roots as you add them. Tuck soil around the plants, as needed. Fill the container all but 1.5 – 2” from the top. Add 1” of your decorative gravel to the surface to discourage the squirrels from digging into your pots and hold the soil in when watering.Thoroughly water your newly planted container and continue to check it for moisture every three to five days throughout the fall. During the winter months your container will not require much water to survive. I rarely water in the coldest part of winter.

Storing Bulbs

Planting containers with bulbs only:

I also enjoy potting up containers filled with bulbs that I overwinter and then place throughout my yard come spring. For this approach l often plant the bulbs in 2 – 3 gallon plastic pots that I can pop into a more decorative container just as the bulbs come into bloom. When you’re planting bulbs only in a container, you can place as many bulbs as you can fit on the soil, leaving ½” between each and following the planting instructions above, skipping step four. Depending on the number of containers you have time and space for, you can plan and plant for a succession of blooms by selecting a variety of types (such as hyacinth, tulips and narcissus) with various bloom times.

Storing Bulbs for Winter

Once the containers are planted, I’ll give the bulbs extra protection by wrapping them in groups with landscape fabric and placing them under shrubs, against the house wall or in another space where they are out of sight.

Sprouting Bulbs

I cover my containers completely in November and December and uncover them in February after the severe cold has passed to allow them to start their growth.

Winterizing containers in exposed areas:

Containers placed on balconies, decks and in other exposed areas may benefit from additional protection during really cold weather. I’ve found an easy way to increase the temperature by a few degrees. I wrapped the container with bubble wrap (not underneath as drainage is necessary) and wrap over the bubble wrap with burlap or another material that I can tie at the top and bottom  with string at the top and bottom, then wrap again over the bubble wrap with burlap or other materials of choice. Tie with string, or a bow if you are feeling festive.

Beauty through the seasons

I love that this method of planting bulbs provides beauty throughout the year. Each season, my bulb containers transition and my garden transforms with the new plants that come into blooms from the same set of containers.

Spring

Bulb Containers in the Landscape

Summer

Fall

Bulb Containers in the Landscape

I plant my containers for fall and winter with bulbs beneath for the spring show. Not only can I dress my display up for fall with pumpkins and gourds, but I can also decorate for the holidays with lights, berries, and cut holiday greens.

Fall container, pansy, ornamental cabbage, creeping Jenny

Creating Containers for Fall and Winter

Containers are changeable, moveable and groupable, but most importantly, enjoyable. They can be tailored from formal to naturalistic and anywhere in between. As the weather cools and we welcome the fall season, I always get excited about playing with plants in containers and combining annuals and perennials that I can enjoy immediately and even into winter. This year, I’m creating fall containers including annuals for fall color, plus biennials and perennials that will last through winter. These arrangements will last for two seasons: the annuals can be removed when the frost takes them, leaving space for your biennials and perennials to grow. Here are a few of my favorite plant selections that combine beautifully in fall containers:

Fall Container Annuals

Perennials: (1) Schizachyrium, (2) Gaura, (5) Dusty Miller,  (8) Aster, (9) Juncus, (11) Euphorbia, (12) Mums; Annuals: (3) Crested celosia, (4) Ornamental pepper, (6) Calibrachoa, (7) Petunia, (10) Celosia ‘Intenz’ (13) Calibrachoa

Shade Plants for Containers

Perennials: (1) Heuchera (coral bells), (2) Carex, (3) Schizachyrium ‘Standing Ovation’, (4) Fern

If you love your fall season annuals, you can easily lengthen their life span by covering your containers with lightweight frost cloth when frost is predicted. Depending upon the weather, this can take your fall annuals into November in our area.

Container Designs

Clockwise from top: Juncus ‘Blue Arrow’, Kale ‘Redbor’, Pansy, Lysimachia ‘Aurea’ (creeping Jenny), Celosia ‘Intenz’ The plume-like blooms of celosia, graceful height of juncus, and earthy texture of kale combine beautifully to thrill the eye in this container. Bloom-rich pansies help fill the space, while the bright greens of creeping Jenny pull your eye down the container with its graceful spill. Annual celosia will die back with frost, leaving room for the rest of these plants to fill the container. All of these plants are sun loving and require a minimum of 5 to 6 hours of sun per day.

Shade container, Pansy, Heuchera, Fern, Creeping Jenny

Clockwise from top: Cryptomium (Japanese Holly Fern), Lysimachia ‘Aurea’ (creeping Jenny), Sedum ‘Angleina’, Pansy, Heuchera (coral bells) The fronds of cryptomium add height and thrill the eye in this container, providing beautiful evergreen foliage throughout the seasons. The variegated foliage of perennial heuchera and abundant blooms of pansies fill the central space while perennial sedum and creeping Jenny spill over the edge of the container. This tonal color palette is beautiful in part shade to full shade conditions. All of the plants here prefer to avoid the heat of the afternoon sun.

Pyramid Fall Container

Clockwise from top: Pumpkin tower, Ornamental peppers, Sedum ‘Lemonball’, Pansy, Carex One of my favorite tactics in designing fall containers is to add height and tons of seasonal interest using a tower filled with small pumpkins and gourds. The fall colors of bright orange and yellow lead the eye down the tower into a base filled with contrasting foliage and blooms. In the base, variegated pansies and ornamental peppers fill the space while carex and sedum spill over the edge of the container. To transition this container into the holidays and winter months, simply remove the ornamental peppers that will die with the frost and spray your pumpkins and gourds shades of gold, silver and bronze.

Caring for Your Containers

Here are some basics that assist in winter hardiness for plants and pots:

  • Size matters. Containers that are at least 14” in diameter increase your chance of success as higher volumes of soil improve the roots protection from the cold. I have had good luck with both well-fired pottery and ceramic containers when they are placed on a deck, patio or elsewhere on a piece of slate.
  • Remove any saucers before winter. If the water collects and freezes, it will break the pot.
  • Lightly fertilize with a slow release fertilizer, such as Espoma plant tone or Merrifield Flowering Plant Food. Heavy fertilization will encourage too much growth as winter approaches.
  • Though I rarely water in winter, if your containers are in full sun you may need to water if the soil is not frozen.
ISTOCK Tomato

Vegetable Gardens in Small Spaces: Tomatoes

David Yost, Merrifield Plant Specialist

Tomatoes are one of the most popular fruits and vegetables among gardeners as they are both beautiful and delicious! Even if you have limited space, you can grow beautiful tomatoes with a container, adequate sunlight and a little planning.

Tomatoes can grow in a variety of conditions, but will produce the best fruit in a location with 6 to 8 hours of sun per day. Before you begin your tomato container garden, check your yard or patio at a few different times throughout the day to determine the best location for your plant.

Step one: Choose your tomato

You can grow just about any kind of tomato in a container if you are willing to work with vines that can reach 8 feet tall or more. I like to grow the Celebrity variety in containers for its hardiness, flavor and manageable size. ‘Celebrity’ typically grows to about 5 feet, making it a manageable choice.

Step two: Gather your supplies

Before you begin planting, you will want to make sure you have the following items:

  • Container: Your container should be a minimum of 16” in diameter for one tomato plant. With tomatoes, bigger is always better when it comes to containers. Today I’m using a plastic pot, but you can use almost any container as long as it has a hole in the bottom for drainage. You can also use an EarthBox, which has a sub-irrigated watering system that can increase time between watering.
  • Potting soil: We recommend using a lightweight potting soil, such as Pro Mix Organic Vegetable and Herb, for container-grown tomatoes. For one tomato plant in a 16” pot, you will need two 16 qt. bags of potting mix.
  • Small square of landscape fabric: Place this over the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot to prevent soil from escaping and keep your patio clean. This will also prevent critters from coming into the pot.
  • Tomato cage or other support structure: To keep your tomato contained within the pot, we recommend using a tomato cage or a plant stake to support the vine.
  • Fertilizer: I like to use an organic fertilizer, such as Espoma Tomato Tone, for my edible gardens. You can also use an inorganic, slow release granular, such as our Merrifield Flowering Plant Food or Osmocote.
  • Granular lime: I like to mix lime in with my tomatoes to prevent disease and boost growth.
  • Squirrel repellent: I have lots of squirrels in my yard so I use a squirrel repellant to discourage them from tampering with my tomato plant. I like the I Must Garden brand as it’s organic.
  • River jack stones or seminole chips: You’ll use these to cover the top of the container surface. This will protect your plants from squirrels and preventing dirt from washing out of the top of the pot.
  • Hand shovel
  • Gardening gloves
  • Watering wand and hose

Step three: Plant

Since your container can be heavy once its filled with the soil, we recommend setting the container in place before you plant your tomatoes.

  1. Place your piece of landscape fabric over the drainage hole in the bottom of the pot.
  2. Fill your container 2/3 of the way with potting soil.
  3. Add your fertilizer and lime to the potting soil and mix with your hand shovel. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label to determine the appropriate amount of fertilizer and lime to mix in.
  4. Add your tomato plant. Break up the roots and remove the bottom set of leaves before placing your plant in the pot. You can cover your tomato with soil all the way up to the second set of leaves.
  5. Top off the container with soil, but keep it an inch from the top of the container to keep it from spilling over the sides as you water.
  6. Place your tomato cage in the pot. You will want to do this right after planting to prevent the cage from damaging the root system of the tomato.
  7. Cover the surface of the soil with a half-of-an-inch of small river jacks or seminole chips.
  8. As an extra layer of protection, spray your tomato with squirrel repellent.

Step four: Water and nourish

Once your container is set, water it thoroughly. Run the water over your container, letting it drain out of the bottom. Tomato plants need to be watered frequently to maintain consistent moisture in the soil. The soil should not be allowed to dry out. During hot weather, you will likely need to water your tomato plant daily.

For the best tomatoes, we recommend feeding your plant every 2-4 weeks with fish emulsion.

Your plant will be ready to harvest later this summer, and will continue to produce fruit through the end of the season.

Our Gardener’s Picks: Container Garden Favorites

Peg Bier, Merrifield Plant Specialist

I love container gardening because there are endless combinations of plants you can pull into your creation to always come out with a fresh design. You can find stunning options throughout the entire nursery. For example, I love pulling in fresh herbs as fill or spill plants and even perennials to add texture.

Here are a few of my favorite plants that you can turn to time and again to combine into a unique container.

Part Shade to Shade

You have part shade to shady conditions if the location you have in mind for your container receives dappled light or four hours of morning sun or less each day.

1. Dracena 2. Euphorbia 3. Iresine 4. Korean Rock Fern

Thrill Plants

1. Dracena

With beautiful foliage in bright green, deep green or even variegated options, dracaena are beautiful tropical plants that can be enjoyed outdoors while the weather is warm and indoors when the weather cools.

2. Euphorbia

An easy to grow perennial, euphorbia is popular for its richly colored showy bracts in shades of green, yellow, white, red, or purple. Deer resistant, drought and heat tolerant and low maintenance, euphorbia are easy to love. Be sure to wear gloves handling as the sap is toxic and causes skin irritation.

3. Iresine

Grown for its striking, glossy, red or variegated foliage, iresine makes a stunning addition to any container or garden bed. Also known as beefsteak plant or blood leaf, iresine can be enjoyed outdoors this summer and brought inside at the end of the season when the weather cools.

4. Korean Rock Fern

A low growth evergreen perennial, Korean rock fern adds texture and density to shady spots in the garden or height to any container. Its lush, dark green fronds provide great contrast when paired with lighter greens and golds.

5. New Guinea Impatiens 6. Big Begonia 7. Rex Begonia 8. Million Kisses Begonia

Fill Plants

5. New Guinea Impatiens

This easy to grow annual produces big, striking blooms on showy foliage in shades of green that’s often variegated or burgundy tinted.  With bright, colorful blooms in shades of orange, red, pink, white, and purple, New Guinea impatiens are stunning in containers and in mass bed plantings.

6. Big Begonia

With loose clusters of large flowers in shades of white, pink and red, the big begonia series also features waxy, dark green or bronze foliage. The big begonia will produce flowers in a compact, mounding form now through the first frost in the fall.

7. Rex Begonia

Known for its fabulous foliage, Rex begonias produce showy, jaw-dropping leaf coloration, adding texture to any container planting. While it produces small, pink to white flowers, they’re insignificant compared to the fabulous foliage display.

8. Million Kisses Begonia

Million Kisses begonia is a vigorous trailing begonia with bright pink to red flowers on showy green foliage. A tuberous begonia, this plant is low maintenance and will produce masses of flowers all summer, making it a perfect choice for containers and hanging baskets. The million kisses begonia is a standout as a fill or spill plant in containers.

9. Setcreasea 10. Lysimachia 11. Million Kisses Begonia 12. Asparagus Fern

Spill Plants

9. Setcreasea

A training, tender annual in our area, setcreasea has vivid purple stems and violet-purple leaves with pink flowers come summer. Deer resistant, setcreasea is one of our favorite trailing plants thanks to its stunning color.

10. Lysimachia

Also known as creeping jenny, lysimachia is a low growing, creeping groundcover with rounded, golden yellow leaves. It produces bright yellow, cup-shaped flowers come summer. A fast grower, lysimachia is a great choice as a spill plant as the container acts as a natural border.

11. Million Kisses Begonia

Million Kisses begonia is a vigorous trailing begonia with bright pink to red flowers on showy green foliage. A tuberous begonia, this plant is low maintenance and will produce masses of flowers all summer, making it a perfect choice for containers and hanging baskets. The million kisses begonia is a standout as a fill or spill plant in containers.

12. Asparagus Fern

With a feathery leaf texture that appears soft and fuzzy and small white flowers in the summer, asparagus fern is a great spill choice as it cascades gracefully down the side of a pot. Asparagus fern is not a member of the fern family at all and is in fact part of the lily family. You can enjoy your asparagus fern outdoors this summer and enjoy it indoors in bright, indirect light once the weather cools.

Part Sun to Full Sun

You have part sun to full sun conditions if the location you have in mind for your container receives five hours of sun or more each day.

13. Gartenmeister Fuschia 14. Purple Fountain Grass 15. Perilla 16. Persian Shield

Thrill Plants

13. Gartenmeister Fuschia

With full foliage and delicate, exotic blooms, fuschia makes a standout thrill plant in both containers and hanging baskets. Its two-toned flower color and unique shape make it quite the attraction! Fuschia is an absolute must to attract hummingbirds.

14. Purple Fountain Grass

This tropical annual produces narrow bladed burgundy-red foliage with rosy-purple plumes. It’s mounding, airy form and deer tolerance make it a lovely choice for containers or bed borders. At the end of the season I love extending the life of fountain grass by drying it and working it into an indoor arrangement.

15. Perilla

Also known as beefsteak plant, I love using perilla for its beautiful, wrinkled, serrated, large foliage. Its bushy form adds density and height as a thrill plant in container gardens. Perilla is a popular herb in some Asian cultures where they use its grassy flavor with a hint of licorice in stir fries, salads, soups and as a garnish.

16. Persian Shield

I love Persian shield for its long, slender, pointed leaves and bright iridescent color. Its bushy growth habit and phenomenal foliage with deep green veins and a purple-silver surface make Persian shield a stunning choice for a container garden. You can enjoy your Persian shield outside this summer and bring it indoors to enjoy when the weather cools.

17. Petunia 18. Bidens 19. Sweet Alyssum 20. Lantana

Fill Plants

17. Petunia

Petunias are vigorous growers and prolific bloomers with a delicate, tubular shaped bloom. I love that they come in so many color choices with beautiful veining as I can always find a petunia to pair with my other plant selections. Keep your petunias looking their best by deadheading after they flower and fertilizing regularly.

18. Bidens

This north American native annual produces starry, honey-hued flowers atop fern-like green foliage. Bidens is a prolific, vigorous bloomer with a compact growth habit and tolerance to both heat and drought, making it the perfect selection for a container garden. You’ll love to smell its sweet fragrance right outside your door.

19. Sweet Alyssum

Sweet alyssum produces clusters of delicate, subtly-scented sweet flowers in shades of pink, salmon, purple, white or yellow. Its tidy and compact growth habit and soft, delicate appeal make sweet alyssum a popular choice for container gardens, handing baskets and even bed borders.

20. Lantana

With tiny flowers in tight clusters, lantana is beloved for its ability to produce an abundance of blooms continuously summer through fall. This annual is very heat and drought tolerant and exceptionally easy to care for! And, its solid or bi-colored clusters of flowers attract butterflies better than most other annuals.

21. Dorotheanthus 22. Dichondra 23. Calibrachoa 24. Lotus Vine

Spill Plants

21. Dorotheanthus

Dorotheanthus is a trailing, succulent leaved annual with small, red, daisy-like flowers. Its dense, spreading form make it a beautiful spill plant, especially with its rough, thick, oval leaves that almost appear as if they’re shimmering!

22. Dichondra

I love dichondra for its gray foliage and low maintenance care. This lovely spill plant has a unique form and is truly spectacular as it drapes and falls over and out of the pot.

23. Calibrachoa

Also known as million bells, calibrachoa produces an abundance of tiny, petunia-shaped blooms in stunning colors such as bright red, blue, orange, pink or white. It’s trailing form make it a standout spill plant and a beautiful groundcover when tucked into a bed border.

24. Lotus Vine

This tropical annual produces brilliant, sunset-hued beak-like blooms in late spring to early summer. When it’s not in bloom, it’s light greenish-blue, needle-like foliage provides a beautiful texture. Lotus vine is a beautiful spill plant in containers and hanging baskets and great as creeping ground cover. When combined with dichondra, the effect is amazing!

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