When we think of low-maintenance container gardening, the first thing that usually comes to mind is succulents. Who doesn't adore their easy-care ways and low-water needs? The mild climate of the Gulf Coast region means you have suitable options available beyond succulents that offer the same easy care and minimal watering requirements for container gardening.
In my garden I'm finding drought-tolerant nonflowering plants that mix well without sacrificing color and texture. For example this large container of assorted bromeliads, starring the brilliantly orange-hued Aechmea blanchetiana, sits on a back patio in full sun and surprisingly never needs more water than rainfall.
Over the last few years I've challenged myself to come up with interesting combinations that don't compromise on color or texture. In the blue pots above, bromeliads, foxtail fern (Protasparagus densiflorus), 'Margarita' sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas), African iris (Dietes iridioides), spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) and Oshima sedge (Carex oshimensis 'Gold Strike') blend to provide abundant texture and color.
Closer to the water source there's no need to resist seasonal mixes with flowering plants. Because spring visited our region so early this year, I was planting up favorite combinations in February. Various shades of purple with a spot of chartreuse make the bowls bordering a pathway a welcoming view in the back garden. I've paired deep-purple angelonia with the fragrant clusters of purple sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), Calibrachoa MiniFamous™ 'Double Amethyst' and creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea'). When flowers are spent on Angelonia augustifolia, just snip them back for another flush of lively blooms.
For a closer look at some of my container gardens, watch my video.
Do you have more suggestions for colorful container plantings without using flowers?