Containing My Enthusiasm

I’m not real thrilled with my containers in sun this year. Each of the individual plants is nice, but they don’t collectively have the impact you would wish for. Back in the spring my containers were filled with tulips or pansies with a bit of stock (Mattheola incana). They  had real visual punch.

Containers in sun on the front walk and stoop.
Containers in sun on the front walk and stoop: not much punch.

Now my containers in sun seem to be delivering only a faint tap.

Mexican petunia
Mexican petunia

Of course, I picked many of this year’s container plants because last year they were attracting hummingbirds in droves (though we never did get a picture). This year: same plants, but no hummingbirds. Which brings their visual appeal to the fore.

Cigar Plant
Cigar Plant

For tall plants, I’m using Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana)  and cigar plant (Cuphea ignea). The Cuphea flowers are profuse but too small, and the Ruellia flowers are nice but too sparse.  (Also, I tried some Mexican petunia in the Driveway Border – it did not do well.)

Containers on the front stoop: cigar plant, star flower, Mexican petunia, nasturtium.
Containers on the front stoop: cigar plant, star flower, Mexican petunia, nasturtium.

The starflower (Pentas lanceolata) does better in this regard. It has clusters of little five pointed flowers – in my garden, mostly red.

Nasturtium 'Empress of India'
Nasturtium ‘Empress of India’. It’s hard to tell this is a container because it is nestled into a bunch of violets and Rudbeckia.

Also, I am definitely happy that I planted nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus), both the red/orange ‘Empress of India’ and the ‘Alaska Mix’. Love the color and it trails nicely over the side of the container. Plus the flowers and leaves are edible (tastes like watercress).

Nasturtium 'Alaska Mix'
Nasturtium ‘Alaska Mix’, red star flower to the right

I had underplanted the tulips with sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), and I left them in because the weather has been pretty mild. Usually they fizzle when after a couple of weeks of really hot temperatures. At this point some have fizzled, but a few are still looking good.

The sweet alyssum is still doing ok cohabiting with nasturtum in my old sneakers, but the clematis wants to butt in.
The sweet alyssum is still doing ok cohabiting with nasturtum in my old sneakers, but the clematis wants to butt in.

Though one problem with leaving in the sweet alyssum is that now you can see bare patches in some of the containers.

Anyhow, now I’m thinking maybe next year I will keep the nasturtiums and starflower but just combine them with marigolds and tall Zinnias.

What are your favorite plants for containers in sun?




56 Comments on “Containing My Enthusiasm”

  1. Love the nasturtiums! I think your containers are lovely! I planted the Mexican petunia and was hoping for a bit more in the bloom department myself! I have been shuffling things around after getting home from our trip and to be honest I have already purchased some fall grasses to add some zip back to some of my planters like purple fountain grass. Happy gardening to you!

  2. Gee, I think your containers look
    great: full, healthy, good color combinations. I have done some nasturtiums this year; they are doing better than usual, because I am really bad about watering, and this year have not much had to. Rely mostly on petunias, dianthus and salvia. My favorite is evolvulus: great colors (flowers and leaves,) and revives nicely when it goes too dry.

  3. Don’t be so hard on yourself, Jason. I think you have a lovely selection of container plants there. It’s a funny year, I feel, as lots of things don’t do as well as they should. Sweet idea to plant up your sneakers…planted our old hiking boots up with sempervivum last year. I love your lively red combination with the star flower. Why would it be that there are no hummingbirds yet? I mainly grow drought-resistant plants in my containers: Salvias, grasses, Osteospermum, but I’m particularly delighted with my Ipomoea lobata this year.

  4. I don’t “do” containers. I’ve never had much success with them – no doubt because I am inconsistent in watering & feeding them. I think your nasturtiums are striking….. Isn’t garden blogging wonderful? A place to document & return NEXT year to make adjustments, etc……

  5. Good grief they all look wonderful! The plants are full and healthy and there is much color. I guess you could go with spray paint if you need more but really I think that would be overdoing it… Seems to me the trick is to keep the pots from looking spent and yours all look vibrant and in their prime.

  6. Your planters look fantastic! I love your Princess of India. I had 5 planted throughout my garden and only 1 has made it this far. I think that our summers might be too hot for them. I like using Coral Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) and Salvia greggii. Both are great for attracting hummingbirds.

  7. Your pots look great, and most everything seems to be the type of plant which will last all summer. You’ll really enjoy the hummers once they come your way, they only just started hanging out here last week.
    My standards are calibrachoa, grasses and sweet potato vines. I like the stuff that really takes over!

  8. Geraniums! I also have some small abutilons in yellow and pinkish red that I grew from seed two years ago and kept as a houseplant last winter. They have nice big flowers and make a statement. Dianthus and Lobelia (which the insects love) stand up to the heat pretty well here, and this year I also discovered a lovely trailing yellow flower called Mecadonia. I love your Nasturtiums… I can never decide whether to plant any or not as they tend to get so unruly!

  9. I find yellow helps add real punch to containers, and it combines so well with every other color! I am very fond of yellow Marguerite daisies in my containers. Also, lantana does well for me, as well as Purslane/portulaca (though it only opens in the sun, so not a good brightener for a gloomy day!) Your nastursiums are great! I planted some in containers for the first time this year and am quite pleased.
    Also, I agree with others who have stated you’re being too hard on yourself! Step back and take in the larger view rather than fixating on the small stuff, and you’ll see that it really does look great!

  10. I think your pots are pretty. Lots of green this year with the summer weather we’re having, cool and rainy. Maybe they just doesn’t stand out as much with everything being more lush than usual this time of year.
    You’re the second person recently to mention the lack of hummingbirds. Have to keep our ears open and see if it’s been noticed by others in the area. I don’t usually get them, but I do have a very inviting yard for them this year and no visitors.

  11. Zinnias, annual black eyed susans, and gomphrena are my favorites because they bloom non-stop. I think your pots look great but if you really want explosive color add dwarf zinnias or lantana:) Love the shoes full of alyssum! I have plenty of hummers here but very few butterflies. 😦

  12. I love your containers but as someone said you are never happy with your on pots & plants 🙂 I always use a bold petunia color -purple or magenta/pink and pick flowers that go strikingly with them. Now that I have moved I don’t have anyplace for a large planter to plant what I used to 😦 I love looking at the different flowers that you use.

  13. My simple containers just have yellow Pansies (they’re early when I’m desperate for color!) with some fun looking branches added for height. I cut them back a couple weeks ago and fertilized and they look like they may revive for fall. Lucky me!

    Another one has Scaveola, a diminuative lime Sedum for contrast, Diamond Frost as the “filler” and Elephant Ear for height. Very nice! Would love to add photo if I could figure out how.

    LOVE Mexican Petunia. Is there another foliage plant in there for height? VERY NICE! I agree you are too hard on yourself. Most containers need reviving this time of year.

    GREAT topic!

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