By Cory Collins, Conservation Garden Park
Container gardening with bright summer annuals is something that can wake up your senses, and let you know that summer has finally arrived. Even though there are plenty of annual flowers that can be planted in the spring, it is hard not to love a colorful planter filled with summer annuals—the kind that have to wait for warm days and nights in order to grow.
The Farmer’s Almanac says you should wait until Memorial Day to plant your summer annuals, but here is a secret: you can get started on some of these planters early as long as you remember to cover them if temperatures drop below freezing. By starting one or two of these fun containers now, you can have more time to enjoy your summer container garden.
Where do you start? First you need to find the perfect container to showcase your bright blooms. There are so many options to choose from. Containers come in all sorts of sizes and can be paired with many different plants. Try combining a few different looks of containers or use the same style of container with a variety of mixed plants.
Once you have your containers selected, you need good potting soil. I highly recommend getting one that contains water-holding materials. If you can’t find that, you can always add soil moisture beads or coconut coir into your soil. Don’t forget that this is the perfect time to add in a ‘time release’ fertilizer. Another great idea is to place the plastic pot (or 6 pack) that your plant came in on the bottom of the empty container. This will help with drainage and make it so you have less soil to add. It will also make it easier to move the container during the season if you ever need to.
Now the fun part of the whole project—planting! Many plants will do great in containers throughout the summer, but others can (and sometimes do) fail. Part of the learning experience is figuring out which plants will work well for you and your surroundings. You will need to consider what kind of sunlight you have. Will the container be in full sun, semi sunlight, or a shady area? One thing I have learned from my years of experience is that plants tend to thrive more in bigger containers—plus they seem to not want near as much water. If you choose to use a smaller container, I recommend limiting the variety of plants to just one or two. Make sure the container is going to be big enough for the plant you select.
Once your container garden has been planted, all you need to do is keep it happy with a little water every day, pinch back the plants here and there, and enjoy the creation you have made. Here’s to a happy full-bloom summer! Because as John Mayer said, “A little bit of summer is what the whole year is about.”