As promised, here's part 2 of Kerry Kelley's container gardening tips for hot weather. Click here to see her suggestions for designing plant combinations, and potting up the chosen plants - and see some of my favorite container garden photos, too.
Great Annuals for Hot-Weather Containers
The shrimp plant, named because its flowers actually look kinda like shrimp, doesn't need deadheading, attracts hummingbirds, gets nice and full and yet also trails down the side of pot. It'll even bloom indoors in the winter. Kerry showed us the two colors shown above, and suggested the yellow be paired with white Justicia. She also loves it paired with ornamental corn 'Field of Dreams' with its green-pink-white variegated leaves.
Mexican heather blooms nonstop with no deadheading needed, and is great all by itself in a pot.
In the photo left, Kerry suggests a great combination: the familiar Persian Shield as the vertical accent, with pink-blooming Penta, and 'Silver Falls' Dichondra as the trailer (and it'll trail up to 6 feet!). That Dichondra is quite drought-tolerant, takes some shade, and also works well as a groundcover.
Annual Salvia attracts butterflies and loves the heat, but DOES need to be deadheaded if you want reblooms.
Sweet potato vine is another familiar annual but what's new are the many new shapes, sizes and leaf types available from breeders. In particular, rather than the chartreuse 'Marguerite' variety that gets soooo long and grows a huge tuber by the end of the season, there are compact types that can be used in small containers. Sweet potato vines can be stored over the winter like cannas and other nonhardy bulbs, or simply brought indoors as a houseplant until the next season.
Another familiar annual, the Lantana, is also now available in new varieties, like the variegated 'Samantha' shown here on the right.
Asperagus fern will last as late as January outdoors.
Angelonia, often called the Summer Snapdragon, comes in pink, white, blue, and grows to just 1' tall.
Coleus has been a favorite for years now and the choices just keep getting better. Here in mid-summer they're coming into their peak size and glory but they look great until the absolute end of the season, after which they can be brought indoors as a houseplant (though they need good light). Alternatively, it's very easy to propagate, then grow again outdoors the next year, and who doesn't love freebie? (Click here for the simple propagation instructions.) Kerry likes to mix several varieties together, so maybe she'd approve of the combination above at Chanticleer Garden.
Houseplants for Outdoor Containers
Kerry also showed us a whole cartful of plants from the Houseplant Department that work well outdoors in the summer, especially in shady spots. Like the Lemon Lime Dracena and Pepperomias above.
More shade-lovers include Maidenhair fern and Bromeliads, which look terrific with Impatiens. (Keep the Bromeliad in its own pot, then put it in a larger pot and plant the Impatiens around the edges).
The Rex Begonia (photo right) also needs shade but requires no deadheading - because it doesn't flower. It also doesn't need a much watering.
Kerry declared the Zebra Plant to be "awesome". No argument here.
Caladiums can take some sun, and Crotons actually need sun, but not a lot of watering.
Perennials for pots
Firecracker Penstemons grow to 2-1/2 feet and provide great color - red.
Heucheras are one of Kerry's favorite plants for containers. Just be sure to plant them high - abovegrade. If crown is under soil, they'll rot (whether in a pot or the ground).
Least favorites for summer containers?
Nobody loves all plants equally, right? And Kerry's least favorites for hot-weather containers include the 'Million Bells' Calibrachoa - because they "peter out". And she finds Petunias to be too fussy. Apparently both they and the Calis suffer in too much watering as often as too little. Good to know!