Add These 6 Flowers to Your Outdoor Planters for Summer-Long Color

These bright blooms will last all season long with proper maintenance, making them perfect for summertime gardens and patio pots.

Various flower pots at yard
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Most gardens look more complete with beautiful flowers, but if you're dealing with poor soil quality or your outdoor space consists of only a deck or solid pavement, planters are your new best friend. Whether you opt for hanging baskets, stately pots, window boxes, or a mixture of all three, containers can accent every type, style, and size yard and—when filled with the right flowers—can provide season-long interest and appeal.

Caring for flowers in planters is relatively straightforward. "As long as you provide a healthy growing media and the proper amount of light, water and nutrients, many plants can thrive in containers," says Kip McConnell, business development director for Southern Living Plant Collection. "An added bonus? You hardly ever have to weed container plants." One thing to note: During summer, plants in containers will need more frequent watering than those in the landscape because they can't grow deep roots to reach water.

There's a wide range of options to choose from when selecting flowers for your planters. "The list of possibilities for beautiful, even fanciful container gardens is unlimited," says McConnell. "Use potted plants as living flower arrangements, accent plants in garden beds, on porches and patios, or to add a lushness to any interior space." Despite the large selection of flowers that thrive in compact vessels, there's a select few that will fill your landscape with color all summer long.

encore azalea autumn starburst
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Encore Azalea Autumn Starburst

For a summertime bloom show with big impact, McConnell says to go for a compact flowering shrub. "These larger plants are stunning in large pots, adding gravitas with their stature and bringing curb appeal that can be seen from the street," he says. Although not all shrubs are suitable for container planting, ones with a compact growth habit, like autumn starburst, will thrive in this setting. The bi-color re-blooming beauty stuns with its white and coral blooms from spring through fall. "As a dwarf variety, its size makes it well suited to container plantings," McConnell says.

Care requirements

Autumn starburst needs six or more hours of sun, but should be shielded from harsh sun in the afternoon. The perennial should be watered well during its first year, then you can adjust as necessary. McConnell says to feed the flower acidic soil and fertilize in spring after its bloom season is over using a well-balanced, slow release granular azalea or camellia fertilizer.

  • Perennial flower
  • Zones 6 through 10,
  • Stands at 3-by-3.5 feet when mature
heart throb hydrangea
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Heart Throb Hydrangea

Another compact grower that thrives in containers, this hydrangea variety has showy red blooms that will add seasonal color to your planters. "With flowers that shift color across the seasons, it makes for a stunning summertime display," McConnell says.

Care requirements

The bloom flourishes in partial shade to shaded areas. It has medium watering needs, and should be watered before planting and about twice weekly after it's in its container. Use moist, well-draining soil and fertilize the plant throughout its growing season. According to McConnell, this variety of hydrangea doesn't need to be pruned.

  • Perennial flower
  • Zones 5 through 9
  • Stands at 3-by-3 feet when mature
ever amethyst agapanthus
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Ever Amethyst Agapanthus

A semi-dwarf bloom, ever amethyst is ideal for attracting birds and butterflies to your yard. The flower blooms and re-blooms with multiple spikes of vibrant purple flowers. "For bold color and an unusual, firework-like bloom in summer, agapanthus is a showstopper," McConnell says. "These towering flowers offer masses of super-saturated blue, white, or purple flowers atop slender stems."

Care requirements

Plant amethyst agapanthus in a partially sunny area and water about twice weekly. Use well-draining soil and fertilize annually. No pruning is necessary for this plant, which flowers from summer through fall.

  • Deciduous flower
  • Zones 8 through 11
  • Stands at 24-by-12 to 24-by-18 inches when mature
buttered rum heucherella
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'Buttered Rum' Heucherella

To maximize color in your planter, McConnell says to think beyond the bloom. "Foliage—or leaves— doesn't just have to be humdrum green; containers are a chance to play with texture and color to enchant the eye," he says. Opt for the lush orange leaves of buttered rum heucherella, an evergreen, low-growing, and long-lasting perennial that's perfect for providing interest when mixed with taller plants.

Care requirements

This variegation of heucherella prefers part shade to shaded areas and should be watered before planting and then twice weekly once it's in the ground. They prefer well draining soil and should be fed fertilizer throughout the growing season. No pruning is necessary, McConnell says.

  • Perennial flower
  • Zones 4 through 9
  • Stands at 12-by-12 inches when mature
Purple Pixie Dwarf Weeping Loropetalum
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Purple Pixie Loropetalum

Another way to enhance the color in your containers is by adding this petite evergreen shrub, which McConnell says is the perfect pick to anchor container planting. Another bonus? The striking deep purple foliage will hold its color well into fall when the flowers' last summer blooms are long gone.

Care requirements

Purple pixie should be watered prior to planting and kept in an area with full sun to partial shade. Once planted in well-draining soil, water the fast-growing plant about twice weekly and fertilize it yearly in the spring. Once it blooms, purple pixie benefits from regular pruning.

  • Perennial flower
  • Zones 7 through 10
  • Stands at 1 to 2 inches-by-3 to 4 inches when mature
tuberous begonias
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Tuberous Begonia

Tuberous begonias, which are perennials often planted as annuals, make for a stellar container addition. Their big, rose-like flowers add a powerful punch alone in a small planter and are even more striking when mixed with other shade lovers.

Care requirements

Keep tuberous begonia in bright but indirect light and water sparingly, or as needed. The perennial prefers moist, well-draining soil and should be fertilized once a month with a water-soluble fertilizer. Remove tired flowers as they fade and any wilted leaves that appear.

  • Perennial flower
  • Zones 9 through 11
  • Stands at 6 to 12 inches-by-1 to 1.5 feet when mature
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