go to pot!

go to pot!

Spring finally came, summer's just around the corner, and hot weather will follow.  The recent rains were much needed, but this is Oklahoma after all, and you never know what plans Mother Nature has for your inground landscaping.  My advice is to let it go to pot!  Now I'm not suggesting you visit Colorado to indulge in some forbidden substance.  But rather come to Calverts to get inspired to add container plantings that can be integrated into your yard or patio.  The ideas I'm going to present to you can take the heat of our summers.  We have a solution for either sun or shade.

Tropicals are a great addition to an outdoor design because they are versatile, tough, colorful, and easy to take care of.  Here are 3 flowering trees to consider.  Oleanders, durantas, and bougainvilleas need lots of sun to look their best.  You don't even have to "plant" them.  Pick a large enough container to conceal the grow pot, and stage them in for a summer-long show.  Bougainvilleas come in a variety of colors and will bloom as long as they get enough sun.  They appreciate being fed a good tropical fertilizer, in addition to  some extra blooming formula.  They actually prefer to be left in their grow-pot, which makes it easy to keep them overwinter.  Durantas can be purchased in tree or bush form, and are relatively fast growers.  Their many shoots quickly produce the most gorgeous dark purple flowers, followed by orange berries.  So both colors will be seen on the tree as the summer progresses.  To keep them looking healthy all summer, as with all 3 trees, give them a thorough watering when they need it, and feed them regularly with a good fertilizer.  The flowers also have a light pleasant scent.  Another group of plants that are excellent for heat and sun are the succulent family.  These include members of the kalanchoe, echeveria, aloe, and agave family.  Often sunny conditions will actually make them more colorful.  Smaller varieties can be planted (make sure your container has a drainage hole), and bigger ones can be staged.  Their leaves store water so by feeling them, you can tell when they want a drink.  Instead of feeling fat and stiff, they will feel rubbery when they need water.  Some varieties can fill a container with "babies" and others have a tendency to stay solitary.  Sometimes that can be regulated by the size of the pot, if planted.  A bonus with these plants is that some, like the aloes and echeveria, will put out a bloom spike that can be quite unusual.  They will do this throughout the summer.  

Transitioning from sun to shade are a group of plants called bromeliads.  Especially well-suited to outdoor use in pots are the ones called neoregelias.  With just the right amount of sun, especially morning sun, they can double in size from a 6" plant.  They also get more colorful.  Nestle them in your landscape for a surprise pop of color.  After they flower, they will grow "children" at their base that will fill in around them as the parent slowly dies off.   If planted up in a slightly larger container,  they can continue to look good for more than one year.  You don't have to settle for boring if you have a shady yard.  There are lots of tropicals that prefer shade in our hot summers.  Foliage like fan palms, macho ferns, cordylines, hoyas, and the cryptanthus bromeliad will all keep their good looks.  Some people plant their machos directly in the soil where they will grow huge,  but they are perfectly happy in a pot.  Cordylines can be purchased in the most amazing colors, from pinks to reds to sherbet stripes that are truly striking.  Hoyas are an interesting group of plants with succulent type leaves that can be solid green or variegated in whites and pinks.  They are slow growing so they can stay in the same pot for years.  Eventually they will bloom on long, twining stems that can wind themselves on a trellis.  Full sun will burn them, but morning or very late afternoon sun is ok.  Their flowers are very fragrant.  Another foliage plant that can delight all summer and into fall is the croton.  I like to use them in a spot that gets some sun, just not in the hottest part of the day.  Feed them a natural-type of fertilizer to keep them happy, otherwise they are quite undemanding and stay trouble-free.  Their foliage can be found in many patterns and shapes; this particular one is called "zanzibar". One more unusual flowering plant that we have right now is called a medinella.  Some types cannot take our heat, but this kind makes panicles of light pink flowers all summer that are tiny by themselves but together create a nice effect.  Put them under a tree where they will get dappled sun all day.  

Containers are a wonderful way to add spice to your landscape.  They can be solitary as a focal point or grouped to make a landscape scenario of their own.  Tropicals can be direct-planted into the container if they have drainage, or simply staged for an easy shortcut.  Staging also makes it possible to overwinter the plant without having to move the heavy container into your house.  We have the fertilizer to keep your beauties looking good all summer, and the advice you need to get started.  See what fun it is to go to pot!


1 comment (Add your own)

1. Bob calvert wrote:
Tami, your wonderfully fun and informative. Great!!!

Tue, May 27, 2014 @ 12:07 AM

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