Monday, July 25, 2011

Summer Containers That Beat The Heat

Creating beautiful pockets of color for your yard is easy when you select the right plants and containers.  Choosing a container is not only about aesthetics but also about your landscape maintenance style. Are you someone who loves pottery full of flowers but you don't have irrigation to the pots or want to worry about watering every day in the summer heat?  Then select a ceramic or plastic container and using a potting soil with water holding materials like coconut fibers or polymer water balls that will allow soil to hold onto moisture longer.  Clay pots dry out very quickly and depending on the plant species used will need watering every day. For succulents and cacti, clay pots are very appropriate.

Mix annuals, perennials, succulents, herbs, and even small trees in your container, making sure they all have the same sunlight and soil conditions.. Select three to five plants that will give you vertical (height), horizontal (width) , and depth (hanging below the pot's top edge).  Vary the foliage types with spikes, succulent vines, or soft velvety leaves.  Use the color wheel approach to match your flowers and foliage with your choice of container. 
Complete your containter by adding Spanish or sphagnum moss to fill in any bare areas to create more interest.  If you are collecting Spanish moss from your yard and want to use it indoors or on a patio, dry it out and kill any insects or mites first by microwaving for one to three minutes before adding to your creation.

Keep an eye on your plants for the first couple of weeks to ensure that it is getting enough rainfall or water to beat the heat. 

Some ideas for great plants to use in containers for full sun outdoors:
  • African bush daisy, Gamolepis chrysanthemoides
  • Ice plants, Aptenia spp.
  • Osteospernum, Osteospermum spp
  • Ageratum, Ageratum spps.
  • Blanket flower, Gaillardia pulchella
  • Bulbine, Bulbine frutescens
  • Bluebird vine, Petrea volubilis
  • Calendula, Calendula officinalis
  • Celosia, Celosia spp.
  • Common yarrow, Achillea millefolium
  • Firecracker flower, Crossandra spp.
  • Firecracker plant, Russelia equisetiformis
  • Gazania, Gazania spp.
  • Gloriosa lily, Gloriosa superba
  • Showy stonecrop, Sedum spectabile
  • Ornamental potato vine, Ipomoea batatas
  • Jewels of Opar, Talinum paniculatum
  • Lavender, Lavandula dentata, Lavandula stoeches
  • Million bells, Calibrochoa spp.
  • Society garlic, Tulbaghia violacea
  • Whirling butterflies, Gaura lindheimeri
  • Zinnia, Zinnia spp.

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