Perfect for pots

For some of us gardening in pots or containers is a necessity. If you live in an apartment or condo with only a balcony, you are probably delighted to be able to grow ornamentals, vegetables or both in pots. Or, maybe you’re like me and you can’t resist trying the latest and greatest plant you fell in love with at the nursery but don’t really have a spot for in your garden. Whatever your reason is for pot gardening, there are unlimited choices of what you can grow in containers including dwarf conifers, trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and bulbs.

If the containers you planted up with summer color are beginning to fade, now is the perfect time to refurbish them by adding seasonal color like pansies or violas (I'm growing Peach Sorbet from the Sorbet series this year) parsley, snapdragons and ornamental cabbages and kale. You can also plant spring flowering bulbs in decorative pots and over plant them with these same winter annuals, which will make for a fantastic display next spring. A single specimen like a Japanese maple, Harry Lauder's walking stick, Corylus avellana 'Contorta,' dwarf conifer or a weeping tree will provide color and interest in every season. In winter, berried shrubs like deciduous hollies lift our spirits even on gray days.

A group of containers makes an effective display but even one potted garden that includes perennials, annuals and woody plants can make a big impact. Containers can be used to enhance an entrance, brighten an area of your garden that needs color or grouped together to create garden scenes.

When I visited GardenHood last week (the newly opened nursery in Grant Park) I was inspired by some of the combinations they put together including a pot with the succulent Graptopetalum, Heuchera 'Caramel,' Heuchera villosa 'Autumn Bride,' Euphorbia 'Rudolph,' a hardy red bottlebrush called Callisetemon 'Woodlanders Hardy,' Juncus 'Occidental Blue' and Yucca aloifolia 'Purpurea.' The combination of colors and textures promises to please for months. Another container featured dark foliage and flowers with Euphorbia 'Blackbird,' bronze fennel, black mondo, Heuchera 'Mocha' and Heucherella 'Alabama Sunrise.'

Recently I was talking about plants for pots with Dianna of Scottsdale Farms Nursery in Alpharetta and she likes the teddy bear arborvitae Thuja occidentalis 'Teddy' for containers. It has blue-green foliage and is so soft looking, "you just want to pet it."

I am not a big fan of Nandinas but the thread-leaf Nandina domestica 'Filamentosa' with its deep cut lacy foliage looks like a fern and is also perfect for growing in a pot. Boxwoods are ideal for container culture and there are many choices including the littleleaf types like Buxus microphylla 'Golden Dream' which has bright green leaves edged with a golden border.

Succulents provide bold architecture and many are happy growing in containers. I grow a few agaves but would like to try some more and plan to grow them in pots.

Beyond beauty, gardening in containers makes it easy to adjust the soil according to the needs of the plants you’re growing. And, you can move pots as needed to make sure they receive the proper amount of light. If a plant dies, you can replace it with something else. Gardening in containers gives me an opportunity to try more plants and combinations that I might not otherwise grow.

Erica’s Pick

Little Diamond Japanese Cedar

Botanical name: Cryptomeria japonica 'Little Diamond'

About the plant: This tidy looking evergreen conifer has soft bright green foliage. Selected in Holland it is reported to grow only 2' tall and 3' wide in ten years.

Use in the garden: This dwarf conifer is perfect for pots or planted in a group to mark an entrance. You can also include it in the perennial border to provide evergreen color throughout the year.

Planting and care: Plant 'Little Diamond' in full sun or part shade in a moist, well-drained soil.

Source: GardenHood, 353 Boulevard SE, Atlanta, GA 30312


Erica Glasener is a horticulturist and host of "A Gardener's Diary" which airs at 6:30 a.m. Fridays on HGTV. For questions visit Erica Glasener.

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