Most every garden looks 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 your petite porch is decorated with hanging baskets or your generously-sized patio is adorned with stately pots, containers can accent every type, style, and size of garden—and, when done right, can provide season-long interest and appeal.
If you're gardening with planters there are a few things to keep in mind: First, a plant's life in a planter is very different than a life in the ground. Potted plants require more water and nutrients, so be watchful of your watering schedule, use an organic fertilizer when planting, and continue feeding with a fertilizer formulated to encourage flowering. Also, to promote bloom after bloom, make sure to routinely deadhead spent flowers as they appear. With this type of attention to your plants, you will surely be rewarded with a show all summer long. Another tip: While plants in containers can be changed out as the seasons turn over, try choosing plants that last as long as possible. This more sustainable method will save you time and money. Here are some of our favorite reliable, continuous bloomers for the summertime.
If you're looking for flowers that thrive in the shade and deliver lots of color, low-maintenance, self-cleaning (meaning the blooms drops their faded petals) impatiens are the way to go. The flower blooms nonstop from the time you plant them until the first fall frost and come in a wide range of colors, from white to pink to magenta. Although grown most often as annuals, impatiens are hardy outdoors in zones 10 and 11.
These evergreen, low-growing, and long-lasting perennials are planted not so much for their flower power but for their amazing foliage. With a variety of showy colors and variegations, these plants are perfect for providing interest when mixed with taller plants and are particularly suited for containers because of their appreciation for well-draining soil. Grow heuchera in full sun to full shade, depending on the cultivar.
Actually tender perennials usually grown as annuals, tuberous begonias make for a stellar planter 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. Plant these lush beauties in the spring in rich potting soil. Remove tired flowers as they fade and any wilted leaves that appear.
Prized for their nonstop trailing blooms, petunias will spill out color from late spring until the first frost of autumn. Petunias are often grown as annuals, but they are hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11. They thrive in full sun and tolerate part shade. Give these easy showstoppers regular water and remove the flowers as they fade to encourage more blooms.
Most Pelargoniums, or geraniums, are grown as annuals in cold-winter climates although they are actually perennials. Most appreciate full sun, but in hot areas some afternoon shade is appreciated. Keep plants on the dry side and luckily they demand rich, fast-draining soil which planters provide. Frequent pinching back of faded blooms will keep them attractively bushy.
This center stage perennial provides a bold tropical burst with its banana-like leaves and voluminous and colorful flowers. By placing a canna as a planter centerpiece you get long-lasting bold color and lush leaf texture. Cannas crave regular water and full sun for best growth. Hardy in zones 7 through 11, and in zones 8 and up they are repeat bloomers all summer.