Keep big container gardens light enough to move by filling the bottom third with lightweight plastics. Upside down flower pots and an empty lidded juice bottle neatly fill space in the bottom of the pot and won’t rot during the course of many growing seasons. Using plastics in the bottom of pots also saves on soil—saving you money. Plastics promote healthy plants by providing an air pocket for plant roots, which helps to prevent waterlogged soil, even during the wettest seasons. Where to find possible space fillers for large planters? Raid your recycling bin, choosing rigid plastics over softer, milk jug-types.
‘Guardian Lavender’ delphinium is versatile in the landscape, growing equally well in containers, planting beds and as a cut flower in cutting gardens. The secret to keeping cut delphinium stems looking great is to plunge the hollow stem, the moment it’s cut, into water. Plants are hardy in Zones 4-7 and grow 30 to 39 inches tall.
Dutch hyacinth is a fragrance powerhouse. Its stocky blooms open in midspring, around the time that daffodils are hitting their stride. The blooms release a rich, full fragrance that can fill the spring garden. Indoors, pots of forced hyacinths bring spring scents to life in the heart of winter. Plant bulbs in fall for a spring show in the garden. Choose flower colors in many shades, including purple, blue, pink, salmon, white and red. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Set off a fall container garden with an array of colorful pumpkins and gourds. This pot showcases a planting combination that features pansy, ornamental or flowering kale and garden mums. For a thriller plant, purple fountain grass provides good height. A bushy rosemary plant offers a pretty textural contrast and background for the combination. Buy plants in larger pots with established root systems to ensure best survival.
Create a colorful container garden packed with annuals that thrive during cool weather, including Anytime Pansiola, a heat-tolerant pansy that’s winter hardy in Zones 5 and higher. It pairs beautifully with Dark Knight sweet alyssum and Sunsatia Lemon nemesia. In pots or planting beds, removing faded and frost-damaged pansy flowers keeps plants from forming seed pods and reduces disease outbreaks.
Dutch hyacinth is a fragrance powerhouse in the garden. Its stocky blooms open in midspring, around the time that daffodils strut their stuff. The blooms release a rich, full fragrance that can fill the spring garden. Indoors, pots of forced hyacinths bring spring scents to life in the heart of winter. Plant bulbs in fall for a spring show in the garden. Choose flower colors in many shades, including pink, purple, blue, salmon, white and red. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
Fall’s classic bloomer is the garden mum. These colorful beauties paint the autumn landscape in nearly any shade imaginable, from pastel tints to bold hues. Garden mums grow best in full sun with well-drained soil and work well in containers or beds. To enjoy the longest show, choose mums with flower buds that are just beginning to crack open. To overwinter plants as perennials in colder zones, get mums into the ground as early as possible in fall. Mulch well after the ground freezes. Plants grow 1 to 3 feet tall and wide. Hardy in Zones 5-9.
Nostalgia and romance mingle in the boughs of a flowering crabapple tree. These spring beauties typically open blossoms in shades of pink, rose and white. You can choose crabapple trees in many sizes, from petite standards that look great in pots to full-size trees. Look for varieties that form fruit if you want to feed birds, or skip the apples if you want one less yard clean-up chore. Newer crabapples offer disease resistance that ensures your tree will hang onto leaves for strong fall color.
Cheerful and bright, marigolds make an easy-to-grow addition to any garden plan—in pots or planting beds. These perky annuals bring terrific color all season long. What you might not know is that marigolds pack a punch to many insects, including mosquitoes, thanks to chemical insecticides they release. That’s why marigolds have such a strong odor when you touch them. Both flowers and leaves release the chemicals, but blossoms deliver the strongest punch. Other insects that marigolds deter include aphid, whitefly, thrips, tomato hornworm, Mexican bean beetle and squash bug. Tuck marigolds into pots on the patio to make summer evenings less buggy. Or use them in the vegetable garden to help repel pests.
Include beautiful lavender in your garden plans to help keep biting mosquitoes at bay. Varieties with higher camphor properties are the most effective insect repellents. This includes ‘Provence’ and ‘Grosso’ lavender. On a sunny day, lavender releases its aromatic oils naturally. In the evening, reap its bug-busting benefits by crushing flower buds and leaves and rubbing them on your skin. Tuck lavender into pots or planting beds. Grab lavender topiaries if your outdoor seating areas feature a formal flair.
Look for pansy formula mixes with color blends to suit every season. Panola Autumn Blaze pansy opens blossoms in shades perfect for fall: burgundy and gold. Panola pansies are multiflora types, which open smaller flowers on shorter stems, giving plants a thick covering of blooms. Panola is an overwintering pansy, the kind that garden centers guarantee to survive winter and usher in spring with fluttering flowers. Pansies in pots won’t survive winter in colder zones, where soil can freeze solid. For best winter survival, tuck Panola pansies into planting beds.