By Scott Calhoun
Some Like It Cool
If having plants in bloom is your thing, annuals give a lot of bang for the buck. For containers the photo above illustrates how well cool colors work with bold foliage plants. This combination pairs the delicate blue flowers of Proven Winners Angelface Blue (Angelonia angustifolia) with a flamboyantly colored chartreuse sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas). Both plants like lots of heat.
Another good cool-color flower mixer is ‘Victoria Blue’ sage (Salvia farinacea).
I also like ‘Purple Robe’ (Nierembergia scoparia).
Fighting Fire with Fire
Hot colors -- even during our scorching summers -- can be exciting inclusions. In recent years plant breeders have even jazzed up standard wildflowers. Consider the plant in the photo right.
At first glance you might think it is a zinnia or even a dahlia. But it’s a new twist on a common roadside wildflower, blanket flower. It’s called Dakota Reveille, and it features clusters of tightly packed trumpet-shape blooms that resemble pompoms.
Other hot-color flowers you can work into pots include calibrachoa, also called Million Bells, which comes in many hot and cool shades. There also are perennials such as coral fountain (Russelia equisetiformis); and woody shrubs such as Bells of Fire (right).
A downside to growing annuals, and especially annuals in containers, is they require daily and occasionally twice daily, watering during the hot months to keep them blooming and thriving. For some gardeners this is simply too much fuss. Many folks turn to planting succulents for their ease of care and interesting forms.
The combination of plants and pots, right, are all happy on a shaded patio. It includes ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata), mottled spurge (Euphorbia lactea), green ice gasteraloe (Gasteraloe ‘Green Ice’), and hearts and flowers (Aptenia cordifolia).
The second combination, right, uses multi-color blue and green pots to cool down the arrangement. Key plants are slipper plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus) and ‘Purple Heart’ (Tradescantia pallida). Many succulents don’t like full sun in the summer months in desert climates. This makes them well-suited to container culture on patios and beneath shade trees.
What are your favorite go-to plants for containers during summer?