Growing plants in pots is not limited to the warm months if you choose plants that are hardy for your specific U.S. Department of Agricultural hardiness zone. Growing hardy plants in pots on a deck, balcony or rooftop is ideal for people who do not have a large yard or simply want to grow plants in the areas they frequent. Container gardening is also ideal for people who have mobility problems, since some containers are tall enough to easily access while sitting in a chair.
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Spring is the time of year when many people think about planting flowers in pots. Annual flowers are popular choices; however, planting hardy flowers will bring years of enjoyment instead of just one season. An annual is a plant that grows, flowers, sets seed and dies in one growing season. A hardy plant, or perennial, will come back from its own root system year after year. Columbine, bleeding heart, coral bells, crocus, daffodils and tulips grown in pots will add bursts of colour throughout the spring months.
Season-long blooms, vibrant colours and lush foliage combine to create the ideal container garden for summer when you choose the right hardy plants for pots. Most perennials will grow in a container, but some work better than others. Avoid tall plants unless you have a very large planter. The wind can easily catch the foliage of these plants and tip the planter on its side. Larger containers are much harder to tip over, especially if made of clay. Deadhead, or remove the faded flowers, to encourage season-long bloom. Yarrow, roses, coreopsis, hosta, gaura, gaillardia, perennial geraniums, daylilies, salvia, penstemon, lirope, veronica and toad lily are great choices for summer container gardens.
Many of the flowers that have bloomed all summer long begin to look tired by the time fall comes around. Either cut these flowers back at this point or, if you have a garden, dig them up and plant them in the ground. Another option is to create a separate container just for fall plants. Large containers can often hold several varieties of plants, so you do not have to switch plants out to keep the containers looking good from one season to the next. Monkshood, aster, fall-blooming crocus, goldenrod, sedum and Joe-pye weed are hardy plants that will thrive in containers in a fall garden.
Many people do not think about growing plants in pots outdoors during the winter, but there is no reason why this cannot be done. Simply choose plants that are either evergreen or that bloom during the coldest part of the year to add a very unique and unexpected look to your garden, entryway, patio or balcony. Miniature evergreen trees, holly, mahonia, hardy cyclamen, hellebore and arum are ideal hardy plants for growing in a winter container garden. In cold climates, it is a good idea to wrap the pots with some type of insulating material to protect both the pots and the plants' root systems.
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- University of Massachusetts Extension; Overwintering Containerized Perennials; Tina Smith; October 2004
- University of Illinois Extension; Care of Potted Perennials; Greg Stack; March 1, 2011
- University of Vermont Extension; Perennial Species For Containers; Leonard P. Perry; September 20, 2001
- Clemson University Extension; Hanging Baskets and Window Boxes; Karen Russ, et al; June 1999
- The United States National Arbortum; USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map; Henry M. Cathey; January 1990