Planning an outdoor celebration for Memorial Day? Show your patriotism by planting some beautiful containers to adorn your deck in the traditional colors--red, white and blue!
A good way to design these containers is to choose one plant for the center or back of the container that can remain in the pot indefinitely and filling in with foreground or perimeter plantings that can be changed with the seasons.
Be sure to choose a pot large enough to accommodate the plants selected for it. If the pot does not have drainage holes, be sure to drill some before planting.
Dwarf bottlebrush (red), hibiscus rosa-sinensis (red or white), sea lavender (blue), butterfly bush (blue), kangaroo paw (red) or 'Flower Carpet' Roses (red or white).
For a more subtle look, you could select a plant with red foliage such as 'Tropicanna' canna lily or one of the red-leaf phormiums. The choices are a little more limited if your pot will be placed in a shady area, but a gardenia or a dwarf red-leaf Japanese maple would work well.
Some good choices for foreground plants or plants that will drape over the sides of the sunny container would be petunia (red, white or blue), million bells (red, white or blue), red or blue salvia, verbena (red, white or blue), vinca (red or white) or ageratum (blue or white).
Shady selections would include impatiens (red or white), begonia (red or white), lobelia (blue or white), heuchera (a red-leaf or white-leaf variety) or coleus (a red-leaf variety).
Choose a good quality potting soil. Make sure when potting your plants to compress the soil well; this will get rid of air pockets that will keep water from reaching portions of the soil and will also minimize settling of the soil. Be sure to allow enough room to water by leaving a couple of inches between the top of the soil and the top of the pot.
After your containers have been planted a few weeks, feed them with a good fertilizer to keep them blooming and growing well. Use the recommended amount and frequency suggested for the fertilizer (more and/or more often is NOT better).
With the proper care, your container will continue to bloom until July 4th and beyond. When fall comes, the filler plants can be removed and replaced with cool-season annuals of your choice.
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Blooming from mid-spring through early fall, the butterfly bush (buddleia) is particularly prized for its ability to attract butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds. The most popular species originally hails from China, but buddleias are now grown throughout the United States.
Butterfly bushes are valued for their clusters of beautiful, tubular-shaped flowers. The blossoms come in a variety of colors including white, pink, red, blue, purple, orange or yellow flowers produced by different species and cultivars. Adding to their attraction is the fact that they are rich in nectar and often strongly scented.
The taller varieties add the most value to the garden when they are grown as a background shrub or as part of a mixed border, while the dwarf varieties look great as focal plants or as part of a colorful perennial bed. Butterfly bushes prefer to be planted in full sun locations but can tolerate partial shade if needed. They go completely dormant in the winter in colder areas but can remain semi-evergreen in warmer climates.
The butterfly bush is a fairly low maintenance shrub. Once established it can become fairly drought tolerant and needs only to be fed with an all purpose plant food once in spring and summer. It can be pruned back hard every spring if needed; this will produce a denser and more rounded shrub.
Every garden can use a few--and your birds and butterflies will thank you too!
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