Plants for Pots

Every year we have more and more customers who want to grow perennials or vegetables in a pot instead of in the ground. Growing a plant in a container has a lot of advantages. You can control the type of soil, you can protect it from deer or rabbits, and if it’s not too large you can move it to favored spots throughout the year. Weeding is easier, too. If you’ve had disease problems with plants in the nightshade family, like tomatoes or peppers, you can give them fresh soil in a pot and avoid that issue.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite plants to grow in containers:

Agastache ‘Black Adder’ and Agastache ‘Joyful’:  Actually any agastache (or Hummingbird Mint as they are often called) works well in a container. I first planted Agastache ‘Black Adder’ in a whisky barrel about four years ago. I hadn’t had the best of luck getting that plant to survive the winter in my garden and so I thought I’d try it in the barrel and just treat it like an annual. I like growing it because hummingbirds and butterflies love it. After all sorts of crazy winters, it is still there. Four winters in a pot without any protection! Agastache ‘Joyful’ has been equally happy, as you can see in this picture.

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Aquilegia (aka Columbine): I wouldn’t have thought to put a columbine in a pot to leave out over the winter, but one seeded into a 12″ container and I just left it there. It has survived many winters in that pot, blooming every spring. The little rock garden columbines do really well in troughs, too. Super hardy!

Pulsatilla (Pasque Flower): These are very tough plants and bloom earlier than most perennials. They have no trouble wintering over in pots.

Tomato: I love growing tomatoes, but between our late frosts, and the deer, I have had some problems finding the right spot to plant them. I always plant some in containers for backup. The bigger the container, the better! That said, I put a few Sungold cherry tomatoes in 12″ hanging baskets last year and they were fantastic! I thought they wouldn’t like that small of a pot because Sungolds can be pretty big in the garden, but they produced like crazy. You have to water every day, though, when you use a pot that small.

Strawberries: What fun to have strawberries in a pot! Perfect for grazing. If you have a sunny enough window, you can even bring your pot inside and harvest some strawberries in the winter. If you don’t bring it inside, I would mulch it or protect it in some way.

Heuchera (Coral Bells): Coral bells are so beautiful and there are so many fantastic foliage colors to try. They are not always fond of Colorado soils, so if you’ve had trouble growing them in the ground, try them in a pot. That brings me to this idea–

Combine Annuals and Perennials in a big pot: People like the idea of planting perennials in a pot because they don’t have to buy new plants every year. However, perennials don’t bloom all summer the way petunias and geraniums do, so tucking a few annuals in among the perennials give you the best of both worlds. And that brings me to this idea–

Perennials that bloom all summer: If you want to grow only perennials in a pot, plant Gaillardia (Blanket Flower), Coreopsis ‘Sophia,’ Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’ or Scabiosa ‘Pink Mist.’  Those three bloom like annuals, once they start, they are always in bloom!

If you do grow perennials in a pot, know that every three or four years you need to refresh the soil. The soil breaks down in a pot and will no longer support the plants needs after a few years.

There are so many more plants to try. If you like it and want to grow it in a pot, go for it! You might discover the next best container plant.

 

 

 

 

 

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April Snow

Be careful what you wish for! We’ve been complaining about how dry it’s been and that sure changed Friday night. It rained and rained and then it snowed and snowed. It’s still snowing as I type, early Sunday morning. Our electricity was off for about five hours and that was scary–the greenhouse heaters need electricity to run. We have a couple of rinky-dink back-up systems in case of power outages, but nothing that would really get all the greenhouses through an entire night of below freezing temperatures. San Isabel Electric came to the rescue and by mid-afternoon the power was back on. They saved the day, and the plants.

Before the storm I took a picture of Greenhorn Mountain from Old San Isabel Road. That’s about four miles north and west of Perennial Favorites. I’d like to have a picture from that vantage point this morning, to compare, but I can’t get out of my driveway yet!

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During the storm, Xander the nursery dog and his buddy Junipurr spent a lot of time near the fire, staying warm.IMG_0994

The nice thing about snow this time of year is how quickly it disappears. By mid week it’s going to be warming up and this white landscape will just be a memory.

Goldfinch in the snow

Goldfinch in the snow

Carts in the snow.

Carts in the snow.

 

 

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