Justin W. Hancock

Plant Perennials in Containers

Written on May 29, 2012 at 6:15 am , by

I hear from lots of readers who want their container gardens to look a little different than the norm. Petunias and geraniums are fine, they tell me, but this year they want something a little “more than fine.”

One way to do this is to look beyond the usual plant palette of annuals and consider perennials. They’re more expensive up front but what many gardeners don’t realize is that you can pull them out of your containers at the end of the season and plant them in your garden. That way you can enjoy that same perennial for years to come. The example shown here uses columbine to wonderful effect with petunias, dianthus, euphorbia, and bacopa.

Some of my favorite perennials to use in containers include:

Coralbells: Their colorful foliage is a showstopper from spring to fall and are perfect for partly shaded situations. Dark-leaf varieties such as ‘Mocha’ are fun alternatives for sweet potato vine and won’t overgrow the space. (Get the same effect from chartreuse varieties, such as ‘Citronelle’.)

Ajuga: Another type with fun foliage for the shade, ajuga bears great foliage and creeps over the container, covering the soil and softly spilling over the container edges. ‘Burgundy Glow’ is a particular favorite; the leaves are variegated with silver, white, and purple.

Switchgrass:┬áVarieties such as ‘Northwind’ offer fantastic upright structure in containers. They offer a very contemporary feel and are fun alternatives to cannas.

Blanketflower: This native prairie plant doesn’t mind it hot and dry, and blooms on and off all summer with yellow, orange, or red flowers. It’s a prime pick for attracting butterflies!