Summer Containers for Sun Report

In the Spring the front garden containers are full of Tulips underplanted with Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima). Now that the Tulips are but a memory, though, I’ve devoted some time over the last couple of weeks to replanting with summer annuals. The results are OK, but less than inspiring. Perhaps this is because I didn’t really plan the plant combinations – I was rushed and pretty much grabbed what was available.


There is one container we leave on the stump in the Lamppost Bed, between the sidewalk and the street. This year the container is filled with ‘Sonata White’ Cosmos bipinnatus, orange Million Bells (Calibrachoa forgot the variety), and ‘Profusion’ Zinnias. The Million Bells have a trailing habit, and the Cosmos provides some modest height.


Here’s the path to the front door, which is lined with containers on both sides. Not a great deal of color, but that should improve as summer moves along.


One thing I’ve changed this year is that with groups of containers, I no longer try to apply the “Thriller, Filler, Spiller” approach to each and every planter. Instead, I put tall plants in just a few containers, mainly the ones at the top of the steps. The remainder are mostly full of mounding and trailing plants.


Salvia guaranitica ‘Black ‘n’ Blue’ did not grow well for me in the past,  but I’m giving it a second try. Gosh, I really have to replace that screen door.


I’m having an odd experience with the Million Bells this year: in most containers they are doing fine, but in a couple they’ve either been eaten or withered away to skeletons.


Here I replaced the Million Bells with Bacopa ‘Gulliver Blue’ (Sutera cordata). You can see there’s also an ‘Angelface Blue’ Angelonia angustifolia. I’ve noticed that this plant seems to be taking garden centers by storm around here. Marketers are trying to popularize it by calling it Summer Snapdragon.


Most of the Sweet Alyssum used to underplant the Tulips has been allowed to remain for the summer. Generally, it appears to me that the straight species has exhausted itself for now in terms of flowering. I’ll cut it back soon.

However, the cultivar ‘Easter Bonnet Lemonade’ is still blooming like nobody’s business. Strange name, though – is there a part of the country where people drink lemonade out of Easter bonnets?


I’ve also got some orange and yellow Lantana camaras.


I especially like this variety, which is called ‘Orange Marmalade’. The yellow one is called ‘Lucky’. The Sweet Alyssum here is the ‘Easter Bonnet Lemonade’ variety.


On the other side of the top step, there is the hybrid Salvia ‘Mystic Spires Blue’. Not as dramatic as ‘Black ‘n’ Blue’, but it has been more reliable for me. Some of the spring-planted pansies have been allowed to stay, I think they look pretty good with ‘Mystic Spires’. We’ll see how they fare in the heat of July.


The containers on this side of the steps also have Million Bells and the ‘Angelface Blue’ Angelonia. There’s also my favorite two container plants for attracting hummingbirds: Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignea) and Starflower (Pentas lanceolata ‘Red Lace’).


Here’s a close up of the Cigar Plant.


The remaining containers on this side are filled mainly with ‘Profusion’ Zinnias, Million Bells, and Sweet Alyssum.

I’ll provide some updates as these container plants fill in and mature. Are you planting anything new in your summer containers for sun?


47 Comments on “Summer Containers for Sun Report”

  1. I think your pots really add to your garden Jason. I should take some inspiration from your plant choices. I don’t make much of an effort and tend to use just one plant to fill a pot. I need to use a bit more imagination.
    I love the orange and white combos you’ve got going on, they are very dramatic.

    • The orange and white combos were kind of accidental. For the container on the stump I wanted Rudbeckia hirta, but there were none for sale. So I settled for white Cosmos. With the former tulip containers, the white alyssum stayed on from their initial use as an underplanting.

  2. The very first container looks almost painterly with the background that I realized was not a cloudy sky! You really do go all out, which is impressive considering your front and back gardens to be managed too.

  3. I like your strategy of having some pots specialize as “thrillers.” I also like your use of contrasting colors in your containers. I’ve never been very good at designing container plantings, but I did realize this year that the less successful ones didn’t have enough contrast.

  4. Your entrance looks really pretty with the pots all lined up. I also have a Lantana this year, and was surprised what a thirsty plant it is. The rain has been no problem for it. My other containers are looking very soggy though, so hopefully it will dry up a bit soon or I may need to replace some things. I really like the blue Angelonia and Million Bells in that pot with the cigar plant!

  5. I thought that perhaps I’d plant some containers on our screened in back patio but between the wind and heat I’ve changed my mind. I’ll just enjoy the photos of yours. Your question “is there a part of the country where people drink lemonade out of Easter bonnets?” had me laughing out loud…where do people come up with these names.

  6. looks like you have a number of containers this year. Always fun to make the new combinations. This year i was going to have only a couple, but I potted up a lot of perennials, so that idea went out the window. The heat is crazy here and potted plants all had to be moved into the shade.

  7. Your containers look so colorful and make the walkway to your front door looks so inviting! I didn’t spend as much time on my containers either this year, and a lot of them are just a hodge-podge of whatever I had left. I love Angelonia and have had success with it in the ground as well as in containers. Maybe garden centers and the nurseries have gotten feedback from gardeners about what a reliable annual this is.

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