Potted Plants Sail Through Summer

By LeAnn Locher, PQ Monthly

photoAs we ease into the dog days of summer, I realize the flush of blooms and grandiose abundance of new growth has given way to “hanging on.” Plants at full growth of the year, basking in the heat and the sun and holding tight. No turning of leaves or browning of spent perennials yet, but not the excess flowers of springtime. And so it is, I’m ever so grateful for my pots.

Pots of annuals, perennials, and evergreens intermingle throughout the garden, with groupings of them on hard surfaces like the front porch and back patio, and tucked into corners and made into focal points in the garden. I’ve been honing my approach to the pots and their plants for sometime, and while I had just about given up on them due to their need to be watered regularly, I’m glad once again I have them this time of year. They provide interest, freshness, color and texture throughout the summer, but particularly, mid to late summer, when the garden seems to need the pick-me-up the most.

What I’ve learned about planting in pots as follows.

plants 3• Go big or go home. A hot patio full of tiny little clay pots is a recipe for failure. Larger pots hold larger amounts of soil, and don’t require as much daily watering when it gets hot and dry. Even in a small space, a large pot allows for unique plant combinations, and creates a dramatic focal point.

• Succulents are your friends.  Dry-loving succulents go a long ways in pots, and many will winter over. If you go away for a weekend, you don’t have to worry about coming home to crispy critters left in your pots. There’s a huge world of succulents, and combining several in one pot creates interesting textures and color combinations.

• Group potted plants together. One large pot of combined plants is great, but add two more in contrasting sizes and you can have an interesting vignette. My front porch currently houses a frog planter planted with sedums, a happy welcome pot of coleus and gerbera daisy, and two red sparkly shoes filled with sedums. It’s strange and welcoming. Which leads us to:

photo (2)• Experimentation is good. Weird is good.  Pots and how you plant them or combine them can be outrageously fun. Against our bright blue garage wall, I potted an intense red Love Lies Bleeding amaranth. Pots in the form of heads, allowing the plants to be the “hair” hold a special place in my heart. My favorite one right now has dreadlocks of sedum.

• Pots themselves are a statement.  A unique shape, large size, interesting glaze on a pot may need little extra flair with flamboyant plants. Placing it as a focal point in the garden, filled with one special plant and a glass sculpture to capture the light can be dramatic and beautiful.

• Don’t forget the mulch. Mulch serves a purpose in preventing dirt splash back onto leaves when you water, but it also can be interesting to the eye. Think about marbles, tumbled glass, polished rocks, or even filbert shells as good mulch options.

LeAnn Locher is a home arts badass and tends to her North Portland garden with her partner and their dog, Diego. You can reach her facebook.com/sassygardener or at leann@pqmonthly.com .