By Marty Ross
Midwestern gardeners have ample inspiration for bold, dramatic combinations for containers — the prairie is our home, and you can capture its spirit in a pot.
It’s not just the plants that make flowerpot combinations interesting, though; it’s the gardener. When you shop for plants, make your own rules. Pots should brim with exuberant plants. Let combinations you liked last year lead you to something even more exciting this year.
Give yourself room to grow: Buy at least one really big pot, 24 inches in diameter at the top. Large pots call for an investment, but you can use them for many years if you bring them into a frost-free place, such as the basement or attached garage, in winter.
When you shop for plants, practice making combinations in your shopping cart. Think about where you’ll put your big, bold pot. Buy sun- or shade-loving plants accordingly, but remember that even pots in sun may have shady sides.
This bold combination relies on a couple of handsome purple fountain grass plants as a centerpiece. Behind them, on the shady side, is a luminous ‘Carnival Coffee Bean’ coralbells plant.
In front of the fountain grasses are bright-orange, long-blooming Profusion zinnias.
They are joined by wispy puffs of ‘Star Dust White Flash’ euphorbia.
Tucked in on one side, fluffy ‘Elijah Blue’ fescue grass introduces even more texture.
Fuzzy, silver-foliage dusty miller shimmers like footlights among the other annuals in front.
Midwestern gardeners sometimes experience guilt pangs when they use perennial plants (such as coralbells, pictured) in summer pots. If you want to keep the perennials from year to year, they can remain in the pot if you move it to a protected spot for the winter. Or you can dig them up in mid-fall and plant them in the ground. Mulch around them and they come back next year, bigger and better than ever.
Have fun with your flowerpots this year. Try something new. You might surprise yourself.