Leave No Pot Unplanted

Late last week I made my first visit of the year to Anton’s, one of my favorite local nurseries. To say that they know me there is an understatement. In fact, in spring and summer I make so many appearances that the staff often remind me to punch in my time card.

Violas on display at Anton's.
Violas on display at Anton’s.


What Anton’s has right at the moment is mostly Violas, both hybrid pansies (Viola x wattrockiana) and the smaller Johnny-Jump-Ups (Viola tricolor). But that’s enough for now, as I like to fill my pots with spring annuals as early as possible.

More Violas in cold frames.
More Violas in cold frames.

Actually, I also bought a few ‘Snow Crystal’ Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima), because I wanted something fragrant. For fragrance I also would have purchased some Stock (Matthiola incana) and Wallflowers (Erisymum), but in fact the ones available had no scent. In the next week or two there will be more varieties and I’ll wait until then.

Filling used shrub containers (5 gallon, I think) with pansies.
Filling used shrub containers (5 gallon, I think) with pansies.

Anyway, I needed a lot of spring annuals, because I have a lot of containers. One reason I have a lot of containers is that I hate throwing away the pots that come with the shrubs I’ve purchased over the years. They are often so substantial and solid, it seems wrong to throw them out or even put them in the recycling.

My containers include this ancient wheelbarrow, which is going to rust through at some point.
My containers include this ancient wheelbarrow, which is going to rust through at some point.

Lots of containers means I need lots of annuals, especially because I like to cram many plants into each container. If the tag says space every 6″, I space every 3-4″. I find this is the best way to get a container that is overflowing with blooms.

Containers on our new patio. The grass and perennials around the patio have not grown in yet, obviously.
Containers on our new patio. The grass and perennials around the patio have not grown in yet, obviously. Some containers we put in other containers, like the old coal scuttle to the left. I planted the Sweet Alyssum here so we could sit outside and enjoy the scent.

As a result, by the end of the weekend I had planted 4 flats of Violas, or 192 plants. No, I don’t grow them from seed because my schedule won’t allow it. Yes, buying that many annuals is expensive. However, I like to think that buying spring annuals prevents me from spending an even larger sum on lottery tickets, or on an expensive hobby such as sailboat racing or climbing Mt. Everest.

After filling up all the pots, I looked in the garage and discovered a bunch of containers our former neighbors very kindly left me when they moved last fall. So I still need just a few more plants.

Have you filled pots with spring annuals in your garden?

48 Comments on “Leave No Pot Unplanted”

  1. I have just a couple of pots out the front that I have planted up for spring with primulas, forget-me-nots and violas. I don’t put that many out as we already have a few flowers in the garden and in a month or so I shall put the summer annuals out. It is an expensive hobby, but certainly more rewarding than many other hobbies! I’m making my first trip of the year to the big garden centre in the nearest city today… I’m quite excited about it! 🙂

  2. Or one round of golf, for goodness sakes! Violas are winter annuals here, as they have the uncanny ability to survive our cold by moving water from their cells to intercellular spaces and down to their roots during a freeze. Of course, we don’t get the kind of cold you have, or the snow either. If it’s a relatively warm winter they’ll look perky through the season and in early spring they are always fabulous. We’ll have to pull them out by the end of April, though, to establish summer annuals before it is too hot.

  3. Spring doesn’t last long enough here for me to plant too many spring annuals. I like to go straight to the summer annuals when I start filling pots. I do have some violas and pansies in pots tho. Love em.

  4. I too am a sucker for Pansies/Violas at this time of year — hardy little buggers! And they seem to be breeding them to be tougher and tougher. I may be making a trip to Shady Hill Nurseries, my local favorite place for annuals, this afternoon. Often I will cut Corylus, Salix or Dogwood branches to add height to the pot. Last year my Pansies made it through the hot summer with flying colors, much to my surprise. I gave them a haircut mid summer and they responded faithfully.

  5. Not even close to getting the annuals. Here our nurseries won’t open for a month or more. May 30th is the day everyone shops them. I am surprised with you having similar weather most years that you are planting annuals, even the cold tolerant ones. That is a wonderful start to your spring. Home Depot probably has the pansies out. So many years they try and beat the season and take the loss on plants when it snows in April or even May. People buy the annuals from them and even plant them.

    I have to make due with my hyacinths I have forced indoors. They are make the house smell like spring at least.

  6. Your patio turned out great. Johnny-Jump-Ups are great. Anton’s must be happy to see you coming! I don’t do many pots because I forget to water them, but I do have violas in the meditation circle where they overwintered. They’re thriving right now and the color is welcome.

  7. Wow! 192 plants and just getting started by the sound of it. With my garden weed-infested, a herb garden that is a civic project, and a neighborhood start-up monarch waystation, I’ll just enjoy your container plantings this season and hope to play catchup later. After the endless winter, it feels good to get outside and enjoy the signs of spring.

  8. Your patio still has lots of space for more pots! The fall planted winter pansies are doing their thing now and I have so many perennials and evergreen things growing in pots that I don’t plant any spring annuals. A few summer things get squeezed in here and there though.

  9. Love, love that old wheelbarrow! I made my first plant shopping expedition this weekend, but I came home with only a few pansies. I do enjoy them, but by summer they look pretty straggly, so I usually wait to fill all my pots until the danger of frost has passed and can plant lantana, petunias, and the like.
    Before I wrote this comment, I scrolled down and realized how many recent posts of yours I missed–the post on worst plant names was hilarious, Jason. I remember asking for a ‘Pinky Winky’ at a local garden center one year and getting some strange looks from sales people who weren’t familiar with it:)

  10. Sadly no we can’t plant anything…still not warm or dry enough…soon I will be planting out about 60 viola and pansies….I do grow from seed due to cost. And I have reduced my pots. I hope to grow flowers for cutting in many until I make some cutting beds in the fall. Quite the nursery.

  11. I used to fill pots for the same reason, because I hated throwing them out. But also because I lived in an apartment and didn’t have any other kind of garden space. I still have pots but don’t trust myself to manage filling them and caring for them. But you may have swayed me…!

  12. Hello Jason, it’s coming up to that time of year for me too – the annual trip to buy plants for the front trugs and new for this year – for three hanging baskets. I’m not sure what to go for – the same as last year (trailing fuchsias and trailing lobelia) or something like trailing begonias. Aah decisions…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: