Container Planting For Annual Plants

Like many (seasoned and not) gardeners, I have not yet delved into the perennial container planting. Year after year I wander the garden centers just looking for new and exciting annuals to plant in my 50 something containers.
In the hanging baskets, I planted the Alternanthera Royal Tapestry, for its deep burgundy color and trailing ability. I also chose the Tradescantia Wandering Jew Purple and although many people plant the Wandering Jew as an indoor plant, I enjoy the leaf color variation for my annual hanging baskets. To contrast the two purples, I planted the Torenia Blue Moon.
In another hanging basket, different shape but using the same annual flower container-annuals-survived-chicago-wintervarieties. Both hanging baskets are in a shade location for most of the day. The area does receive some late day sunlight…perhaps an hour or so.
In another one of my container planting I used the annual red Geranium along with a trailing purple Lobelia, Baby Tut Grass for the center height and as a filler, the Argyranthemum Madeira Red.

Other Varieties

This pot is planted for sun conditions. The only caution I have is for the Baby Tut Grass. Do not allow this annual to dry out. Water well every day. Sometimes the tips of this annual plant will turn brown or dry slightly. Using clean garden scissors, just snip (at an angle) off any browning/drying.
Last year I discovered the Bacopa Giant Snowflake and throughout the growing season, was not disappointed in it’s growth trailing habit. The annual trailing plant remains flush with tiny white flowers all summer long.

My front porch planting containers is a two-fold process. I have one container that remains in total shade and there other container receives direct sun for part of the afternoon hours. Therefore, I must choose annual plants that can produce blooms for both shade and sun conditions…oh yes, I have to like the plants as well.
Other annuals I planted in the containers are: Lobelia, Supertunia Royal Velvet and for another contrast trailing annual, I plant the German Ivy.
During one of my trips to the garden center, I came across a wonderful new vine…well it’s not really new…just new to me. Immediately I knew this trailing vine had to grow in one of my containers and then eventually show up in one of my container planting.
This trailing annual plant is called Wire Vine Muehlenbeckia and believe me, this annual is now one of my favorite trailing plants and blends well with the yard in the background.
Can you imagine that just two varieties of annual plants can fill a container to over-flowing. I had this container sitting at the side entrance to my house. Here the sun shines only in the late afternoon and only for an hour or two at most.
As I am always looking for unusual annual plants, the Senecio Blue Chalk fits the bill. Doesn’t it look like a desert cactus? Can you believe that the Mezzo is actually a fleshy succulent annual? Along with the Blue Chalk, I planted the Dorotheanthus Mezoo, another succulent, albeit having a trailing growth habit. The Mezoo produces button size red daisy-like flowers. And finally, I added the Sedum Angelina. I suppose that if I made one error in this container, it was to keep it located in a shade location. The Blue Chalk, Mezzo and Angelina really enjoy a full sun to part sun location.

Planting annual containers is not only useful for porch steps. Try using them to fill in the empty spots in your flowerbeds. Maybe you had a shrub that didn’t quite live up to your size expectations or perhaps you had some perennials that did not survive the harsh winter. I also planted the Sweet Potato Vine, Lime Variety German Ivy and the Euphorbia “Silver Fog’. This grouping makes a striking combination. It requires a full sun to part sun location.
For planting containers, I always suggest the following:
Make sure the container has good drainage…either the container already has holes or you must drill your own. Use good soil…add compost, humus, sand…the richer the soil the better. remember to feed your container plants every two weeks…as you water your container the nutrients leach out through the drainage holes. In order for your containers (if using larger containers) to not be too heavy, take the plastic containers that your plants came in and place in the container/pot prior to adding the soil. I always add a few stones (not too many) to the bottom of my containers/pots…and cover them with old torn nylons (or you can omit the stones and just use the nylons)…this helps keep the soil in the container. Don’t allow your containers/pots to dry out…containers need watering more often…sometimes twice a day if the weather is dry and hot. New to the market this year is the formed fiber/resin containers. These new containers come from Europe and are not as lightweight as the resin pots, but more durable and you would be hard pressed to tell them apart from a real clay pot. You should be able to find them at most fine garden centers.

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