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Thu, 06/14/2012 - 14:45 — Sarah Martinez
Perennials are for containers, too
Out of space in your beds? Consider growing some perennial container gardens
Today’s guest blogger is Susan Martin, a frequent contributor at PerennialResource.com. She’s dishing up the inside scoop on using perennials in container gardens.
With so many varieties of perennials to choose from for sun and shade, it’s now possible to create combinations that are just as appealing and colorful as those made with annuals alone, and the best part is that you don’t have to replant them every year.
Why would you want to grow containerized perennials? You won’t have to grapple with soil issues, for one thing. An example: If your native soil is clay, you can more easily grow perennials that prefer lighter soil in containers and then place them in the garden.
Another bonus: Containers can be rearranged to give the appearance of continuous bloom throughout the season. Place them in a prominent area, such as on a front porch, when they are in full bloom, then rotate them out when they are finished. If there is a spot in the garden that is all-green during parts of the season, add a pot of flowering perennials there to liven up the space and add visual interest. Design your container plantings to coordinate with the seasons, so you have something in bloom for Spring, Summer and Fall.
Here are some practical considerations to keep in mind when choosing perennials for containers:
- Compact, mounding or clumping plants typically grow better in containers than spreading ones. Those that spread will outgrow their container and require transplanting sooner than the clumping types.
- Because of root constraints, most perennials (especially the larger ones) will not grow to their mature size in a container like they would in the ground. For instance, a plant that would grow 3-feet tall in the garden may only get half as tall in a container. So if you would like your container to look really full the first year, start with more mature plants to begin with.
- Shade plantings rely heavily on interesting foliage because they typically do not bloom as long as their sunny counterparts. Design first for foliage, leaving the flowers for secondary interest. This is a good place to use plants with strong architectural interest.
- If you are planning on overwintering your container outdoors or in an unheated area, choose plants that are very hardy in your area (ones that are two or more zones hardier than your zone). This will increase their chances of overwintering successfully. Click here to identify your hardiness zone.