I need to be a mind reader. I'm excited to host three spring container workshops in the next ten days but I need to second-guess everyone's tastes as I select plants for my guests to purchase and play with!
What colors might they be excited about this year? Are they tired of the tropical looking Canna or will they be disappointed if I don't have any? Will they feel adventurous and be willing to try something completely new?
Selecting dwarf shrubs, perennials, grasses and succulents is actually pretty straightforward but the flowering annuals take more consideration. They are often the finishing touch that anchors a color scheme and certainly they are expected to give out some major flower power for the entire summer season.
As I head to the nurseries tomorrow there are a few 'must have's' on my shopping list. These are often varieties that I have used for several years and know I can rely on.
Which are your favorites?
Painted New Guinea Impatiens
It was a client who inadvertently introduced me to these. She insisted on having New Guinea impatiens in her pots but I was concerned that with only modest early season blooms she would be disappointed until they got into their stride. The answer was the 'painted' series that has wonderfully variegated leaves.
My favorite is the Painted Paradise Orange with its stunning yellow variegated foliage and red veins, Even without the flowers it adds plenty of punch. Flower color options include pink, white, red and wine
Fan Flower (Scaevola)
I have long been a fan of Whirlwind Blue fan flower in pots for the way it throws meandering branches of periwinkle fan-shaped flowers through its companions, trailing and mingling with abandon all summer long. It is one of the few flowering annuals that seems to perform equally well in full sun and part shade – especially helpful in those awkward settings where you have two pots flanking a doorway but one gets more sun than the other.
Last summer I had the opportunity to test Pink Wonder and was completely enamored by its clear pink flowers; I'll be on the lookout for this in the nurseries this year. Be warned, that when you find it the little 4" pot may not look very promising with just a couple of short branches and a flower bud or two. Give it a few weeks and trust me!
I love the bold red, hot pink, gold and orange blooming lantana but Samantha offers something else; variegated leaves. These are especially appreciated early in the season when the yellow flowers are few.
Million Bells (Calibrachoa)
I've never been a fan of petunias but these mini petunias are much better. No deadheading needed and they don't turn to a sticky mess after rain. Some varieties win me over more than others, but in truth the results also depends on who has grown the plant. You get what you pay for; cheap plants may not have been grown in prime potting soil nor pinched out during the growing cycle to get nice bushy plants. Pay the extra for top quality and your containers will show the difference.
This has been around for a while now and is still my favorite variety of the Begonia boliviensis for its vivid orange tubular flowers that thrive in full sun. Bonfire is a top performer.
Other (flowering) favorites
Fuchsia autumnale – amazing multi-colored foliage
Torenia 'Midnight Blue' – fabulous for the shade
Time to go shopping……
If you'd like to join me there are just a few spaces left in my Spring Container Workshops. Details and registration info here.