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Mid-Atlantic Gardening: Frost-Tolerant Container Garden

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Welcome spring with frost-tolerant flowers. Lowe's Mid-Atlantic regional gardening contributor Julie Martens shares a favorite recipe.

Spring container garden.
Spent winter plants.

Dig into the garden season by planting a container garden. Choose frost-tolerant flowers and your colorful pot can stand up to late-season frosts and continue blooming. Planting a container garden is one of gardening's easiest projects.

A container garden satisfies the green-thumb urge when it's too wet or too cold to dig into planting beds. I keep a pot on my porch packed with seasonal color. The spring version features cool-season color courtesy of flowers that stand up to late-season frosts.

My multiseason show starts with a 14-inch-wide plastic pot. To dress the pot for spring, I used the following items:

  • Frost-tolerant flowers:
    - 'Anne Greenaway' variegated lamium
    - 'Opal Innocence' nemesia
    - Heather (Erica)
    - purple viola (left over from the winter display)
  • Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix
  • homegrown compost
  • trowel
Remove and refresh soil.

To dress a pot for spring, first remove dead plants from the winter display; toss them on the compost pile. Select frost-tolerant flowers to complement any winter survivors, like the purple viola.

When updating a multiseason container garden, replace roughly one third of soil with each planting. Dig gently; avoid disturbing the roots of plants you're saving.

Replace soil with Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix blended with a shovelful of homegrown compost.

Late frosts are common in the Mid-Atlantic region. Select frost-tolerant flowers to stage a spring show. For goof-proof designs, follow the container garden design concept of using thriller, filler and spiller plants.

For a thriller (tall vertical) plant I choose pink heather (Erica), able to withstand late-season frosts.

Plants for spring color.

For a spiller plant (tumbles over pot edges) I include a perennial groundcover: variegated lamium. Perennials make excellent cool-season color in containers. Tuck them into planting beds when it's time to update the container garden.

Filler plants bridge the gap between thrillers and spillers. I use two filler plants: the purple viola; and a frost-tolerant annual, 'Opal Innocence' nemesia, hardy to 25 degrees F.

Remove plants from their pots and tuck them in place. Add fresh soil as needed to fill in around plants.

Water thoroughly until water trickles from drainage holes. Through spring use a water-soluble bloom-booster fertilizer to promote a strong flower show. This cool-season container garden will last until Memorial Day, when I'll update it for summer.

What plants do you depend on for cool-season color? Let's swap planting recipes!

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