By Natalie Carmolli for Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners® ColorChoice®
Summer is here, and with that many gardeners have pulled out the patio pots they emptied and stored away for the winter. They'll fill them with dirt and annuals, and in the fall they'll toss the plants in the trash and complete the cycle of fill, trash, empty, store.
I'm not saying there isn't a place on your patio for annuals; I love walking through the garden center each spring and choosing a colorful mix of foliage and flowers. But I also love setting that planter next to a reliable, easy maintenance, potted shrub that blooms every year without the hands-on hassle.
Many shrubs can be overwintered in pots as long as an appropriately sized, weatherproof container is used. A good rule of thumb is to choose shrubs that are a couple of zones hardier than yours for overwintering success.
Don't know what to choose? Whether you use shrubs as a single specimen plant or in a mixed pot, these six dwarf selections are sure to make your patio pots pop.
Pugster® Amethyst dwarf Buddleia will attract pollinators to any sunny spot your pot is placed. It's perfect for containers, being nice and compact (2' tall/wide) but features large, full flowers with a rich, velvety look. Hardy in zones 5-9, it blooms nonstop from early summer through frost with amethyst-toned flowers, each with a tiny yellow-orange eye in the center. Thick, sturdy stems also provide improved hardiness and winter survival over other types of dwarf butterfly bush.
Both the flowers and foliage of Jazz Hands Mini® Loropetalum make for an excellent container presentation. This is a perfect example of a shrub that can be used as a specimen plant, or as a spiller in a mixed container. Its black-purple foliage holds its color all season long and showy pink "fringe" flowers contrast with the dark, rich leaves. Loropetalum like it a little warmer, zones 7-9, but I have even used a smaller quart size as a single-season plant in a mixed pot to provide interesting foliage along with my annuals. This dwarf variety matures at a manageable 10-12" tall and wide.
Roses also make a beautiful statement in a patio pot. The Oso Easy® Rosa series offers a wide selection of colors and worry-free maintenance, but for containers, the size and form of Oso Easy Hot Paprika® is a perfect choice, maturing at a petite 1-2' tall/wide. This rose is a standout, flowering from early summer through frost, lighting up containers with its glowing orange blooms. And you can save the pruning and pinching for your annuals – the blooms on this plant are self-cleaning, no deadheading needed. This is also one of the hardiest roses available, thriving down to USDA zone 3 with outstanding resistance to black spot and mildew.
Finally, you can't talk about shrubs in containers without mentioning hydrangeas. If you love Hydrangea paniculata, Bobo® never fails to turn heads. Its compact habit (30-36") features flowers that cover every inch of the plant right down to the ground. The flowers start out white and turn pink as they age, and are held upright on strong stems. Hardy in USDA zones 3-8, Bobo® looks great as a specimen, or surrounded by low-growing annuals or perennials.
Hydrangea arborescens also make a bold statement in a planter but their size has typically ruled them out. Invincibelle Wee White® hydrangea has changed all that. Its dwarf, compact habit (1-2.5' tall/wide) and hardiness down to USDA zone 3 make it a very versatile plant that is perfect for the patio. The white, mophead blooms are elegant and long lasting and held up on sturdy stems so they don't droop, even in the rain!
Tiny Tuff Stuff®, a reblooming Hydrangea serrata, is another top pot performer. With a compact habit (1.5-2') and an abundance of flowers that can range from pink to blue, your guests cannot help but notice its instant appeal. Pollinators will flock to it as well. Hardy in USDA zones 5-9, it's the perfect complement to your summer décor.
It used to be if you wanted a Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrub in a patio pot you had to buy the plant and transfer it into the container yourself. But starting next summer, consumers will start to see the Decked Out® deco planter program in local garden centers. Combining ornamental shrubs and decorative containers, the program makes it quick and easy to enjoy the Proven Winners® ColorChoice® shrubs that are most adaptable to pots on your porch or patio. To make the process even easier, a Decked Out® mini care guide will be attached to all deco-planter packages along with the care tag for the specific plant variety. This guide provides answers to the most asked questions about caring for shrubs in containers.
Decorating with shrubs is no longer reserved for flowerbeds and foundations – today's easy-care, low-maintenance ornamental shrubs are sized perfectly for containers. So whether you live in a high-rise apartment, or you've always wanted to grow a rose but only have that one spot of sun on your porch, a beautiful reblooming shrub is an easy way to dress up your outdoor living space.
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By Pamela Crawford, author, Easy Patio Veggies & Herbs
Photographs by Pamela Crawford
Pamela has written a great article about mixing herbs in containers. Herbs are natural companions with different textures for interest. The herb mix of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme offers lots of flavor from a small combination loaded with textural interest.
To learn more, click here .
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