Container perennials

By Diana Stoll
The Planter’s Palette

Container gardening has become so much more chic than red geraniums, vinca vines trailing over the edge, and a green spike in the middle for height. In addition to the scads of new annual flowers introduced each year, savvy gardeners peruse the perennial benches for a wealth of container gardening opportunities.

Homeowners have driven two trends that benefit container gardeners. People are building homes with smaller yards, downsizing to townhouses, and focusing on hardscape features like patios and outdoor kitchens. As a result, plant breeders are creating more compact cultivars of parent plants to accommodate smaller landscapes.

Shoppers are also choosing longer-blooming perennials over those with the traditional three- to four-week bloom-time of many perennials. Downsized and longer-blooming versions of perennial favorites are perfect for container designers. Examples include black-eyed Susans, coneflowers, coreopsis, geraniums, Shasta daisies and yarrow.

Sophisticated gardeners, however, never rule out perennials based on shorter flowering periods. If they display attractive features that carry on even when the plant is not in flower, they are also utilized. Perennials like coral bells, foamflowers, lady’s mantle, lamium, pulmonaria and sedums have beautiful foliage and contribute color and texture whether flowering or not.

Other perennials are planted specifically for their foliage — artemisia, creeping Jenny, hostas, ferns, grasses, lamb’s ear and sedges are prime examples.

When planting perennials in containers, plant them much closer together than their recommended spacing in the garden and pay close attention to their watering needs. Perennials have larger root systems than annuals and may require more water when planted in a pot.

Read the full article: Daily Herald


Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.