You want to add a big splash of color to your front porch or back deck this summer (“heyyy, neighbors!”), but you’re just getting the hang of flower gardening. You may find yourself with a lot of questions swirling around your brain. This is normal!
In this week’s tip, we’re going to cover commonly asked questions, like:
- What are the best flowers to grow in containers for big, showy color?
- In your containers, should you plant flowers that come back every year or flowers that only bloom for one summer?
Then, in my next tip, we’ll dig deeper. You’ll get 4 proven questions to help you narrow down your flowers choices and choose the best flowers for YOUR flowerpots.
Watch my video below or scroll down for the article.
What are the best flowers to grow in containers for big, showy color?
If you want flowerpots that are overflowing with color — like the vibrant containers you see in mountain villages or in town centers — then you’re looking for “annuals.”
Annuals are flowers that give you lots of color all summer long, but they don’t return next year.
The word annual is confusing because of how we use it in everyday conversation.
“Hey, we’re hosting our annual barbecue.”
We usually use it to mean recurring. But in gardening, annual actually means one and done. These flowers grow for one season, and then they’re done.
If you like word games to remember these types of phrases, here’s a helpful trick:
Annual = A single season.
So, when you go to your garden center, how do you know which flowers are the annuals?
Well, there are a couple of hints.
One, you may see a section of the store where it looks like the color dial has been cranked way up. There’s just so much color! Chances are, those are your annuals.
These flowers offer you big, showy color.
What’s another hint that you might be looking at the annuals section?
If you’re at an outdoor nursery, many of the annuals (and possibly all of them) are likely going to be located in a section with a cover or a greenhouse.
Annuals often need more moisture than perennials, so they’re typically in a section where the sun isn’t shining directly on them.
And of course, you can always ask:
- “Where are the annuals?” or
- “Where can I find the best flowers to grow in containers or pots?”
People are more than happy to point you in the right direction, so you know where to go.
Annuals may be the most popular flowers for colorful containers … But they aren’t your only options.
Let’s say, for example, you want to add scent to your flowerpots.
You could include herbs in with your flowers.
Or, let’s say you want to include plants that have interesting textures.
You could grow perennials in your flowerpots, like the container below with Coral Bells and Creeping Jenny.
Perennials are flowers that return year after year, but (usually) bloom for a shorter amount of time.
Many perennials bloom for a few weeks only.
So, if you plant perennials in your containers, most of them are not going to give you that big, showy color for the entire summer.
They’ll still be pretty, though, and they should give you interesting leaves and textures.
Here’s an example of how I use perennials in my containers.
I like to plant lamium in some of my flowerpots. Lamium is a perennial.
It gives me flower blooms for some, but not all, of the summer.
I like to use lamium because its leaves are white. It’s unusual for a container garden. It’s a nice contrast with green-leafed flowers.
In the early fall, I can dig it out of my containers and plant it in the ground, so it can return next year.
Want to create pretty flowerpot designs like the ones you see at the garden center? Join the wait list for my spring training program: The Proven Flowerpot Formula.
Often times, perennials grown in containers won’t survive the winter.
It can be too cold on their roots. Too cold and hard. They prefer to be in the ground to return.
So, if you want your perennials to come back next year, simply dig them out of your containers in the late summer or early fall and plant them in the ground.
If you want big, showy color in your containers, look for annuals!
Related tips that may interest you:
- How to pick pretty annuals that are more likely to last all summer long
- Lantana: A heat-tolerant flower for pots and summer gardens
Hey, do you know your flowerpot personality?
Take this fun, 2-minute quiz to find out! You’ll also get personalized ideas for flowers, so growing flowers is relaxing — not taxing.