Container Gardens for Summer Color

Add summer color to your patio, pool or deck with perennial container gardens. There are many great summer blooming perennials that work well in containers and provide a pop of color even if you have limited garden space to plant. There are many types of containers that can be used and left outside year round. The containers shown here are a resin material that is weather resistant and come in an array of sizes and colors that can fit into any decor. These containers may need to have holes drilled into the bottom for drainage, and many have punch-out holes. They are light-weight and are easily moved even after planting. There are also ceramic and concrete planters that are frost proof and available in every conceivable shape, color and size.

Colocasia, perennial Hibiscus, Sarracenia (pitcher plants) and Bletilla

Some colorful and long blooming summer perennials you may want to consider for your containers include colocasia, perennial hibiscus, cannas, verbena, flowering maple, dahlias, monarda (bee balm), and daylilies. Other evergreen and variegated perennials can be grown in containers as well, such as aspidistra (cast iron plants), agave, mangave, and cacti. Hostas also make great container plants for the shady spot on your patio.

Canna ‘Orange Punch’, Verbena peruviana, perennial hibiscus and abutilon (flowering maple).

It is important to consider plant hardiness when creating your planter. Remember that since the plants roots are above ground and not insulated, they will be subjected to colder air temperatures during the winter. Depending on the length and severity of the winter, some plants may be just fine through the winter, or your container garden may benefit by being brought into the garage, sun room or porch area during the winter, or situated in a micro-climate, like next to a south facing brick or stone foundation.

Don’t Let Gardening Bog You Down

If you have a soggy area or damp soils, don’t drain it! We have marginal aquatic perennial plants for wet soil that are great for landscaping everything from rain gardens to bog gardens. These garden perennials love moist spots and will make you fall in love with perennials that dry soil gardeners only dream of growing. Damp soil plants range from carnivorous plants like sarracenia and bog plants like hymenocallis that need full sun.

Bog with pitcher plants (sarracenia) and crinum.

Many bog plants like sarracenia also do well in containers as long as they retain consistent moisture. Click here to learn more about their culture and growing sarracenia in containers.

Pitcher plants available in our sales house.

Thinking Inside the Pot

Container gardening allows anyone to enjoy flowers and their beauty even if you live in an apartment, town home, or have very little usable land for planting.

Select plants that similar water and light requirements. Select plants with various flower and leaf color, bloom time, height and texture.

Sunny tropical plant selection.

A general rule of thumb when designing a container is to include a thriller, fillers, and spillers. The thriller is the focal point of the container (and yes you can have more than one thriller), the filler compliments the thriller and helps fill in space in the container, and spillers flow over the edge of the container and add another contrasting design element.

Thrillers
Fillers
More fillers and spillers.
Finished container.

Hardy Cactus…thoughts

We’ve got a thing for hardy cactus in the garden, but haven’t propagated many to offer yet. One of our many favorites is Notocactus apricus.  Above is our 17 year old clump in the garden, which is 4″ tall x 15″ wide.  We’ve grown a few from seed, but are curious how many folks might consider purchasing one?  We’ve only been to 7F since 2000, so we don’t know if it will take colder temperatures or not.  

Visitors to our spring Open Nursery and Garden this year got to see the amazing Trichocereus ‘Irridescent Watermelon’ (bred by local cacti specialist, Mike Papay) in full flower (hardy so far to 7 degrees F).  Offsets are almost non-existent, so we decided to grow some from seed. Each plant will be different, but all should be quite nice.  So, if we offered these as a seed strain, would you purchase some, knowing each will be slightly different?

Agave Mountain Man – the big moment

We posted this a few weeks ago as our Agave ‘Mountain Man’ (A. gentryi x montana) prepared to open. We’ll, the big moment is here…below are a few shot from today.

The seed were wild-collected in Mexico in the late 1990s by our friends at Yucca Do, and our seedling was planted in May 2000, so it took 17 years to flower.  Fingers crossed for good seed set, and fortunately we have many more agaves in flower (and a tall ladder) to help the process. 

Ark, Ark…is that rain we hear?

In a matter of two days, most of our region went from abnormally dry to saturated, when an unusual weather system tracked across our area.  Not to worry…we’ve loaded two each of every plant on the green arc for safe keeping.

We tallied 5.5″ of rain at the nursery, while areas a few miles away registered almost 9 inches.  As you’ve no doubt seen on the news, areas in and around creeks and rivers are underwater.  Fortunately, we’re fine as all our time spent on water management preparation paid dividends.  

The gardens looks absolutely fabulous, so we hope to see you at our 2017 Spring Open Nursery and Garden which starts today (Friday).  We’ve prepared a special display of the new xMangaves (agave x manfreda hybrids) on the deck area, so we hope you’ll stop by and check out this amazing new category of drought-tolerant succulents for both containers and the garden.  See you soon!

A View from the top – Agave flowering soon

Look what showed up in the garden.  Our specimen of Agave ‘Mountain Man’…a hybrid of Agave montana and Agave gentryi decidied to flower for our spring open nursery and garden.  This unusual hybrid starts its flower spike in the fall, which stops for the coldest part of winter, then starts growing again in spring.  The spike showed no damage despite a winter low of 13 degrees F.  Be sure to check this out when you visit…located just behind the welcome tent. 

Container Gardening – Thrillers, Spillers, and Fillers!

Container gardening is continuing to grow in popularity as more people move into urban areas, where there are space limitations, and fewer people owning their own home. There is also the factor of time limitations with people’s busy lives. Container gardening allows you to incorporate the pleasure and beauty of growing plants into your daily life. Containers are great on patios, balconies, window boxes, and rooftops, and the combinations are endless, fitting into any environment, and allowing for expression of your personal taste and style.

image of Mixed Container with Coordinating Color Palette

Mixed Container with Coordinating Color Palette

When planning your container, you want to keep in mind how the container is going to look throughout the season. You should take lighting into consideration and pair plants with similar light requirements, as well as similar water requirements. As far as aesthetics, you should consider color combinations and how they fit your personal taste and the surrounding design, whether using a coordinated color palette, or contrasting colors for a bold dramatic effect. 

Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers design concept

One popular design concept in creating attractive container combinations, is thrillers (focal point of the planting), fillers (to create a fuller, lush appearance), and spillers (to drape over the edge of the planter) to create depth and dimension in your design.

During both Saturdays of our Spring Open Nursery and Garden Days, April 29 and May 6, we will have a container potting station. 

  • Bring in your own planter/container.
  • Select plants from our sales houses to create your desired combination, or
  • Our knowledgeable staff can help select plants for your specific conditions.
  • For a charge $15.00 we will provide potting mix and aid in planting your container, along with slow release fertilizer.
  • You can then take your newly planted container home and enjoy all season long.

 

The Marvels of Nature!

So what do you get when you cross Manfreda and an Agave?

Wait!!  Is that even possible?

It is!!  And, voila… we present… x Mangave!

x Mangave is an intergeneric hybrid combining the leaf spotting and perennial flowering nature of Manfreda and the leaf spines and evergreen nature (above freezing) of Agave. Like both parents, x Mangave is drought tolerant and has an aversion to winter moisture. In areas where x Mangave is not winter hardy, it makes a great container specimen.

picture of x Mangave Pineapple Express-garden

x Mangave ‘Pineapple Express’ in the garden

x Mangave ‘Pineapple Express’ is a 2016 introduction from Walters Gardens with fleshy, olive green leaves heavily spotted with purple. Pineapple Express will form a rosette 18″ tall x 24″ wide. Above is Pineapple Express in the garden and below is Pineapple Express in our sales house.

We have an exciting array on new varieties of x Mangaves in production with varying leaf shapes and variegation patterns, so be sure to look for them in the future. If you are not already growing x Mangave be sure to check out these horticultural gems.

picture of x Mangave Pineapple Express-sales

x Mangave ‘Pineapple Express’ for sale in our sales house

New, Hard-to-Find Sacred Lilies (rohdea) available

We began growing sacred lilies back in the 1970s, when few people in the US, outside of a handful of fanatic collectors were growing them. The only large scale grower of the green species, Rohdea japonica, was our friends, the late Sam and Carleen Jones of Georgia’s Piccadilly Farms.  Despite being very easy to grow, Rohdeas will never be found at most nurseries or garden centers, due to the long production time from both seed and divisions.  Rohdea japonica Go Dai Takane

Rohdea japonica ‘Go Dai Takane’

We worked for years (pre-Internet and email) to establish contacts in Japan who were willing to sell and ship rohdeas to the US. In Japan, variegated cultivars of rohdeas are highly prized for what most folks think are subtle differences. Most Japanese gardeners grow rohdeas in special decorative ceramic pots as house or patio plants.  For many of the nice, variegated rohdea varieties, costs in Japan range from $50 to several hundred dollars, and several thousand dollars each for the special, slow-growing forms.

Sacred Lily for sale buy Rohdea japonica 'Gunjaku'

Rohdea japonica ‘Gunjaku’

Some rohdeas multiply reasonably well, while others are ridiculously slow to offset.  After several decades, we are finally able to share more of our extensive rohdea collection, although none in large quantities. We have recently added several cultivars to our on-line offerings, with a few more slated for spring.

Rohdea japonica Taishu

Rohdea japonica ‘Taishu’

Think of rohdeas as evergreen hostas…shade lovers that are reasonably drought tolerant, but thrive in slightly moist woodland garden sites.  Although rohdea flowers are barely noticable, the large stalks of bright red berries are a lovely highlight starting in late fall and continuing all winter.Rohdea japonica Kinshu no Matsur

Rohdea japonica ‘Kinsho no Matsu’

In the ground, rohdeas are winter hardy in Zones 6a-10b.  We hope you enjoy adding a few of these very special evergreen perennials to either your woodland garden or collection of patio containers.   If you decide to take the rohdea collecting plunge with us, there is a even a Rohdea Facebook group…come join us on-line.