The Only Summer Container Annuals I’ll Ever Need

You know how it is. When you’re younger (early 50s, say), you want to experiment. Try out different plants in your containers for sun.

‘Mystic Spires Blue’ Salvia, Pentas, Cigar Plant

And then one day you look at the containers on your front steps and you say: “These are the container annuals for me.”

At this moment, my perfect container plants for sun start with ‘Mystic Spires Blue’ Salvia, ‘Red Lace’ Starflower (Pentas lanceolata), and Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignea).

Close up of the Cigar Plant

All three of these are very attractive to hummingbirds, and they go together really nicely. Also, none of them require you to go crazy with deadheading and they won’t faint if their pot gets a tad dry.

Salvia ‘Black and Blue’

The number one hummingbird magnet seems to be  ‘Black and Blue’ Salvia (S. guaranitica). I had tried this plant before and found its flowering to be unsatisfactory. This year it did better, though it still seems to bloom in spurts with awkward pauses in between. Possibly it needs more fertilizer.

In any case, in deference to the hummingbirds, I will keep this plant around.

Zinnias ‘Profusion Orange’ and ‘Profusion Fire’

I’ve also concluded that what works best in summer is to keep the dramatic plants restricted to the containers on the top couple of steps leading to the front door. The pots leading to the steps should be filled with plants that make low, colorful mounds. My favorites for this purpose are the ‘Profusion’ Zinnias – ‘Profusion Fire’, ‘Profusion Orange’, etc.

‘Disco Red’ Marigolds

And I refuse to turn my nose up at French Marigolds (Tagetes patula’), especially single varieties like ‘Disco Red’.

So you see, I’m not afraid of making a commitment. These are the container plants for me. For the moment, anyhow.

Have you found your perfect container plants yet?

46 Comments on “The Only Summer Container Annuals I’ll Ever Need”

  1. I do the same container plants year after year, not because I am in love with them, but because I’ve lacked the imagination to try something different. Although I’m long past my fifties, you are inspiring me to branch out and try some new plants next year.

  2. Black and Blue salvia goes in the ground here. In some spots it acts like a perennial. I change up my plants for pots yearly. I had a blue spires salvia in one of my planters this year. It performed beautifully. The bees and butterflies love it. One plant I use every year in a pot is the Upright fuchsia ‘Gartenmeister’. The hummers like this one too and it does well without a lot of sun.

  3. I like to experiment with container plantings each year, but I do have my favorites that I plant every year. ‘Raspberry Blast’ Supertunias, Helichrysum, and Persian Shield go in the same big pot every year. ‘Supertunias’ are one of my go-to plants, and I have several besides ‘Raspberry Blast’ that are favorites because they are non-stop bloomers. Having said that, I have to admit all the petunias are looking pretty sad right now. I do love ‘Black and Blue’ salvia as well, and so do the hummers. I know what you mean about its awkward stage–I haven’t quite figured out if it should be deadheaded or not. I’ve never planted Cuphea, though–I hope I can remember this next May when I’m buying annuals:)

  4. For the first time in years, I have not done container planting this year. Yours look so attractive that I’ll have to up my game next year!
    I have in the past used what is an annual here, plumbago auriculata and find it attractive.

  5. I love Purslane (the flowering kind, not the weed!) and Scaveola in containers, and I must have Marguerite daisies as well. Petunias too, though I try not to have too many of those because then there’s too much dead-heading! I’ve tried Pentas and was dissatisfied–too many “dark” periods when there were no blooms on it. I’ve grown Salvia Evolution In containers before and that worked well–I need to remember that next year. This year I also use Gaura in my porch boxes, and I really like it! The Profusion Zinnias are great in pots, and I’m glad I’m not alone in liking the single French marigold blossoms! My favorite is ‘Jaguar.’ Do you keep your cigar plant as a houseplant through the winter?

  6. I never see hummingbirds in my garden even though I have a ton of plants–many of which are supposed attracted them. This year I bought Black & Blue Salvia just for the color and put it in a pot. Now I have a hummingbird that comes to it several times a day! Next year I’ll plant an area in the garden with this since the hummingbird seems to like it so much! The hummingbird moth has been attracted to my butterfly bushes.

  7. Those are some lovely displays – I’m especially partial to the zinnias. I’m still in the “pre-experiment” phase as I’ve never had much luck with potted plants. This year, though, I’ve done a smidge better, so I’m now starting to dabble. Let the experimenting begin 🙂

  8. I’m hoping to grow more in large pots on the terrace next year. I want to create a lush foliage collection. This year boring old white busy Lizzie’s did very well so I will repeat those as I like white flowers on the terrace especially in the evening.

  9. Your planters look great…very eye catching and great for attracting polinators! I love the colors! I have two big iron urns that we play with. Right now the main plant is upright rosemary that we try to keep shaped : ) We surround it with annuals. I love Dusty miller with it for a fun white collar. They got to leggy so Shawn put in small pentas with deep green leaves and white flowers. Nice crisp change for late summer! As far as favorite plants to greet people it has to be coleus.We have a second set of tall thin cement urns on the steps and we just redid them for autumn. They have Indian Summer coleus as the thriller, Rio Grande portulaca as the filler and some Silver Pony Foot dicondra as the spiller. It is a tiny colorful bouquet. We haven’t seen as many pollinators and hummingbirds this year. I think it is all the rain!

  10. Great plants! I usually try to use at least one new plant in my pots every other year or so. But my go-tos are fuchsias (for the hummingbirds), caladiums, and coleus(es?). I have one pot in the sun that likes to wear angelonias. And I do plant a few marigolds here and there to help keep the critters away.

  11. Purple and orange are a favorite combination in the garden, although I’ve happily strayed and added more colors. I haven’t been successful with hanging summer baskets or pots but I may try again next year: yours look absolutely fabulous. The Tagetes is an old fashion, childhood memory plant: in a pinch one can add it to a salad for a pop of color.

  12. I may try out the salvia next year Jason. I still haven’t found plants for pots that will withstand the heat out the front of the house – except for Pelargoniums, which are of no interest to the insects! I was impressed with my Lobelia again this year though, and surprised to see so many bees visiting.

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