Friday, June 26th, 2009...12:00 am

Container Gardening

Container garden, Toronto, Canada by Happy Sleepy

Container garden, Toronto, Canada by Happy Sleepy

TheGardenLady received this question from Joyce.

We have a long raised planter that gets quite a bit of sun but only in the afternoon. It’s very shaded most of the day.  I tried impatiens there last summer but they got too much sun. Any suggestion for colorful easy to grow and fairly low growing annuals? Would pansies or geraniums work?

Container gardening is fast becoming one of the most popular ways to garden. All sorts of plants are good to grow in planters.  See here.  Let your imagination run wild. I will give some suggestions of flowering plants.  But consider planting vegetables or herbs in your container or a combination of both.  Watch this video.  Visit local nurseries to see what they have planted in containers both to see what grows well in your area and to see what combinations look good.

FrontPorchSpringGardenMay08 065small by _Anaya_

FrontPorchSpringGardenMay08 065small by _Anaya_

Afternoon sun is the hottest sun. Most flowering annuals as well as vegetables and herbs need the hot afternoon sun. These plants want approximately 5 or 6 hours of the afternoon sun. Do you think your planter gets that much sun? Try to see how long the sun shines on your container. If it gets lots of afternoon sun, you have lots of choices.

If you are buying plants, try to get healthy plants from the stores. One brand that prides itself on selling healthy plants is called Proven Winner. A list of stores in Maine that sells this brand is this. If you should have a problem with the plants, I would think the stores would back these plants.

Container Gardening by edgeplot

Container Gardening by edgeplot

If you are buying plants or using seed packets, check to see the height the plants will grow to be sure that you get plants the height you want. For example, if you decide to plant zinnias, they come in differing heights. Look for a dwarf variety if you want short plants.

You asked about pansies. Pansies would look lovely in planters. One summer when I was in Freeport, I was impressed with the planters in front of many stores filled with pansies. But understand that pansies are a cool weather plant. They hate hot weather and will not last in the heat. So if this summer is hot, you will be out of luck. Pansies like full sun but will tolerate partial shade.

Geraniums (whose Latin name is Pelargonium) are an excellent choice. They love full sun but will tolerate partial shade, though they may not bloom so profusely. They are drought resistant which might be good for you since containers can dry out more quickly than a garden. There are so many different kinds of geraniums. Consider scented geraniums- Pelargonium species and cultivars with fragrant leaves, ivy-leaved geraniums Pelargonium peltatum with a trailing habit and Pelargonium zonale a bushy plant with red, pink, purple, orange or white flowers and often multi-colored foliage. Remember to dead head the flowers to keep your geraniums blooming.

Some other afternoon sun loving flowering plants you can use are calendula, petunia, marigold, salvia, Calibrachoa, Nasturtium, lantana, melapodium, and if you can find these two unusual annuals- creeping zinnia Sanvitalia procumbens and Tassel flower- Emilia javanica.

Consider using plants with different colored foliage like Dusty miller -Senecio cineraria. Put in plants of different heights so that there is a tall plant in the center and plants that hang over the edges. You can mix tropical indoor plants with the annuals or vegetable plants with the annuals-like cherry tomatoes and marigolds.

The choices are extensive. I wish you luck.

Please share photos of your container with TheGardenLady’s readers.

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