Many successful container flowers are either annuals or perennials—they either undergo their full lifecycle from seed in one growing season as annuals or they bloom in the second year and last for a few years as perennials.
Gardeners often cannot resist annuals since these marigolds and petunias add cheerful color to any setting. Petunias, for example, thrive in almost any type of container and are easy to grow, though they do not love intense heat every afternoon. Zinnias, however, succeed in hotter climates, and you can even purchase the Thumbelina variety. If you crave color during those mild winter months, then you’ll like primroses, which bloom from winter to spring.
Annuals are so easy. Why try anything else? For one, flowering perennials last longer than a few months or so, the duration of time that most annuals last. Additionally, perennials can grow larger over time so they can fill a nice ample niche of your deck that might look overwhelming with a small set of annual flowers.
Your perennials will need more year-round attention: you’ll want to fertilize them occasionally even during the coldest winter months. And you may need to trim those scraggly stems. However, this pruning and fertilizing care will result in hardier perennials come spring. And you won’t have to trudge to your local nursery for a fresh round of seeds. In some cases, you can pinch off sprouting flowers so that even more flowers or little plants grow.
For example? Bird of paradise plants need frequent feedings throughout the year, but you’ll receive an abundance of color in return. And varieties of daylilies will suit your particular climate. You can also divide daylilies easily to grow new plants. Or you can snap off spent flowers to encourage growth. Geraniums, one of the best-known perennials, maintain a consistently cheerful look throughout the year, so they only need occasional repottings or pinchings of flowers.
Bulbs are somewhat like annuals—they may bloom profusely for one season—but you can save and plant bulblets. Tulip bulbs, for example, can be planted in the fall with tips just at soil level. If you water regularly, then you should have a sensational show of color in the spring. Daffodils are even easier to grow than tulips and you can cultivate them to gain a longer season of blossoms.
If you want hardier, longer lasting plants, then consider growing shrubs and trees. Some flower, others don’t, but since these plants are contained, you can plant them at almost any time except during very hot weather.
Dwarf forms of crape myrtle, which do best in containers, may need occasional prunings of twiggy growth during dormant seasons, but this tree loves warm summers. The hotter the summer, the brighter the clusters of flowers seem to get. Bushy forms of bougainvillea such as Temple Fire also thrive well in containers and in warm climates. Bougainvillea trees need protection when temperatures sink below 30 degrees F, but you can prune this tree to shape.
Other distinctive varieties of container plants such as cacti and ferns also may add style or interest to your garden. Cacti need even less water during cooler weather and very few feedings save during potting time. Ferns crave more water and a far richer soil than do cacti, but they do not react well to frosts or hot winds.
Other interesting assortments of plants such as bonsai and bamboo exist, and you may even want to study and create specialized areas such as Japanese or bonsai gardens if you are particularly interested in this type of container gardening.
Do you want to learn more about growing other varieties of flowers such as African daisies or poor man’s orchid? Consult our list of different types of container flowers.