Urban Gardening

From May 2008 E-newsletter


Containers of Colorful Flowers and Foliage

In spring, growing container gardens is easy. Vibrant bulbs and cold-hardy annuals grow easily in the mild, wet weather. Summer is a different story. With baking heat and unpredictable storms, container plants can be stressed by drought, sun, wind, insect pests, and other challenging conditions.

But many plants have tolerant dispositions that make them great additions to city gardens. Below are some of my favorite choices for colorful, interesting, and low-maintenance containers that are showy through the summer months. The list includes annuals, perennials, subtropicals, ground covers, and specimen plants. Check with local nurseries for cultivars that flourish in your area.

 

Plant

Attribute

Culture

Canna (Canna cultivars)

Flowering perennial grows from rhizomes. Many cultivars have decorative and patterned leaves. Use in large containers and water gardens.

Full sun; average to moist soil. Protect from hard frost.

Elephant Ears (Colocasia cultivars)

Large tuberous perennials with ornamental leaves. Cultivars available in different colors and heights. Use in large containers and water gardens.

Full sun to part shade; average to moist soil. Protect from hard frost.

Crinum lily (Crinum cultivars)

Large bulbous perennials with fragrant flowers. Cultivars available in different colors and heights. Use in large containers and water gardens.

Full sun to part shade; average to moist soil. Protect from hard frost.

Mini rose (Rosa cultivars)

Tough dwarf roses that flower all season. New foliage has burgundy cast adding to the ornamental look. Thornless and does not produce hips.

Full sun; average to dry soil. Cold hardy.

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

Spreading annual vine with decorative foliage. Flowers profusely in early and late summer. Round leaves and flowers are edible but spicy.

Full sun; average soil.

Balsam (Impatiens balsamina)

Mounding annual with colorful flowers and interesting exploding seedpods. Classic heirloom plants (my great grandmother always grew a few on the porch) for Victorian gardens.

Part sun to part shade; average soil.

White Paintbrush (Haemanthus albiflos)

Bulbous perennial with thick waxy leaves. Flowers in late summer resemble white paintbrushes. Great for hot, arid climates and neglectful gardeners.

Full to part sun; dry soil. Protect from hard frost.

Rain lily (Zephyranthes spp.)

Small bulbous perennials that flower all summer. Rain lilies typically produce a new flush of blooms after heavy rainfall. Best in small, decorative containers where the flowers can be appreciated.

Full sun to part shade; average to moist soil. Protect from hard frost.

Trailing Petunia (Calibrachoa cultivars)

Trailing annual with prolific bloom throughout summer. Perfect for hanging baskets or cascading over large pots. Often sold as a hanging plant.

Sun to part shade; average to moist soil.

Moss Rose (Portulaca cultivars)

Trailing annual with prolific bloom throughout summer. Perfect for hanging baskets or cascading over large pots. Germinates easily from seed.

Full sun to part sun; average to dry soil.

 

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