No matter how beautifully your property is landscaped, your home will look incomplete if you have porch railings without plants. Adding plants to your porch railings increases your home's curb appeal and helps to create an oasis right outside your door. In a home with no yard, porch railings may be the only place a homeowner has to grow plants. You can add plants for their beauty or grow plants that you can use.
Rail planters are rectangular plant pots that sit directly on the porch rail or that hang over the porch by hooking onto the porch railing. The ease of access to these types of planters are the ideal place to plant annual flowers that require replanting. Marigolds are a near-perfect choice for porch railings because they boast brilliant colours and are known to keep unwanted pests at bay. Petunias are a common type of flower available in a wide range of colours. You might also try pansies, begonias or geraniums in your planters. For a truly spectacular floral display, create a dish garden by incorporating several types of plants. As one type of plant stops blooming, replace it with a new plant that is in season for a brilliant arrangement that lasts from spring to fall.
If you browse your local greenhouse, you will surely see rows of hanging baskets for sale. These make it easy to dress up your porch railing for neighbours to see. All you need are some over-the-railing brackets to hang your baskets from the railing. Everyone is familiar with go-to hanging basket plants like geraniums and begonias, but there are many plant options that can make a unique statement. Sweet potato vines cascade over the edges of pots in colours ranging from brilliant green to deep purple. Fuchsia has bright pink, drooping blooms that will last throughout the season. Verbena is a drought-resistant flower perfect for the neglectful gardener. You might also try lobelia, a tropical flower that has a long history as an herbal remedy for chronic respiratory conditions.
If your gardening philosophy is more on the wild side regarding plant growth, then climbing vines would be ideal for your porch railings. Plant them on the ground below your porch and make sure they have sufficient lattice or posts so they can climb up to the porch rails. Monitor the vines as they grow, wrapping new length around posts to encourage their upward growth. Morning glories are vines that grow quickly, producing bright blooms that, as their name suggests, open in the morning. Clematis and wisteria are other well-known climbers; but be aware that the thick, woody vines of wisteria may overpower weak lattice. Trumpet vine produces trumpet-shaped flowers in brilliant colours and are known to attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Nasturtium family flowers like bird vine are attractive, but need extra encouragement to climb. You can even plant grape vines to reap the benefits of the foliage and consume the juicy fruit.
If you have limited growing space, you may desire to grow plants on your porch railing that serve a function other than aesthetics. In that case, herb gardens are the ideal plants for your porch railings. Planting in containers means you can take the plants inside for year-round herbs. You can pinch from the plants as needed for fresh ingredients in recipes. Oregano and thyme are commonly used herbs that spill over the edges of pots. You can easily grow your own basil from cuttings and plant them in any type of outdoor container. Other herbs that grow particularly well in containers include mint, lemon grass and rosemary. If you have a feline companion, you can grow your own catnip in a container on the porch rail, but don't be surprised if your neighbour's cats want to visit.
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- North Carolina State University: Annual Flowers
- Front Porch Ideas and More: Porch Landscaping Ideas
- Fine Gardening: Create an Elegant Hanging Basket; Heather McCain
- University of California, Los Angeles: Climbing Plants
- Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Annual and Perennial Vines; B. Rosie Lemer, et. al.; November 2002
- Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Hanging Baskets; B. Rosie Lerner; October 2002