Kick Ass Containers

Carefree and Heat Tolerant Lantana in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Carefree and heat loving Lantana (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

. . . that take a lickin’ and keep on bloomin’, that’s what I’m talking about!  During the recent hot spell, many of us in New England (and elsewhere) got to experience what temperatures are like in the Sahara.  And not only did we not like them, neither did our plants (and animals!).  A lot of trees and shrubs showed their disdain for the 100+ degree days by weeping down and dropping leaves, and containers, well let’s just say some were as crispy as toast without the butter.  But, there were some potted plants that were resilient to the unprecedented heat wave, and with minimal pampering are still as showy during the dog days of August as they were when initially planted in May.  Here are a few of my soldiers that marched on through the furnace-like temperatures and still look fabulous:

Lantana Tiddley Winks and Plectranthus Variegata in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Lantana ‘Tiddley Winks Red’ and Plectranthus ‘Variegata’ (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Variegated plectranthus vine (Plectranthus coleoides ‘Varigata’) and Lantana ‘Tiddley Winks Red’ bask in the hottest rays the solar system can dish out,  yet continue taunting the sun to “bring it on.”  As long as they get adequate watering, this combination has worked for me year after year, looking gorgeous and lush ’til frost.  Yes, I do fertilize every week, but what I love about lantana is that it doesn’t require any dead-heading or pruning.  It just blooms and blooms and blooms.  Ask my hummingbirds and bees, they’ll tell you!  The complementary plectranthus vine thrives with the competitive nature of lantana, they weave together like a loosely crocheted scarf, draping beautifully over a wall or from a window box.

Container with Texture & Heat Tolerance in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Container with Color, texture & heat tolerance (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Using herbs in containers has a two-fold benefit; herbs are relatively low care and many attract bees, butterflies (the swallowtail caterpillar absolutely adores dill and fennel).  This year I experimented with a few large containers where I packed dill, Eucalyptus ‘Silver Dollar’, Centaurea ‘Colchester White’, Gaura ‘Geyser Pink’, Cyperus ‘Little Tut’,  Proven Winners lilac superbena verbena, and a tricolor sweet potato vine (Ipomoea).  And a funny thing happened.  The cooler temp plants like gaura and dill flourished during May and June, but as the temperatures started to rise, they respectfully bowed out leaving more room for the silver foliaged centaurea, which flowered beautifully producing dozens of small violet thistle-like heads, and the eucalyptus, which branched out in every direction, inviting passers-by to touch and enjoy its minty scent.  Even the multicolored sweet potato vine surprised me by taking cover in the dense foliage of other plants, trailing about adding a flowing element to the otherwise upright plantings.

Container with Zinnia, Curry and Fennel in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Container with Zinnia, Curry, Fennel and caterpillar (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Sometimes a container just needs a little renovation, and once again herbs come to the rescue. I absolutely adore the combination of bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’), white zinnia (I think ‘Zahara Starlight Rose’) and dwarf curry (Helichrysum italicum microphyllum).  The curry has a delightful musky-spicy scent and its upright frosty grey foliage looks fabulous with the white zinnias.  Add in the lacy reddish brown foliage of bronze fennel with a hint of licorice scent and the result is a plethora of interesting smells mixed with a delightful array of textures and a nice shot of white.  Bam!  You’ve got another summer stunner that holds up to whatever mother nature dishes out.  So, if things are looking a little dreary in the container department, kick-start the old creative juices, pick up a few herbs and whatever still looks good at the local nursery, and make yourself a bouquet that will last through Autumn.

*A Final Note: Another dynamite plant is Proven Winner’s Cleome ‘Senorita Rosalita’, a prolific bloomer, no deadheading and it’s sterile, so no pesky off spring like the typical cleome produces.  See a picture of it on my Facebook page: A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer.

Speak Your Mind