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Northeast Gardening: Ideas for Spring Potted Color

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Eager to get out into the garden? It’s still a little too early to work that soil. Why not pot up some lovely plants instead?


By Jane Milliman

Spring-blooming bulbs in containers>

It wasn’t that harsh a winter here in the Northeast, and yet I’ve been champing at the bit to get gardening. As inspiration I had to look no further than some potted spring color from years past. Here are some tulips, daffodils, and pansies that served up plenty of smiles and gave me incentive to head out to my nearest Lowe’s garden center.

A “ready refill” container from Lowe’s>

Although a spring-blooming bulb container is best planted in fall, when bulbs are readily available, Lowe’s makes it easy for those who missed that opportunity. These Ready Refill containers for spring had been grown outdoors for a while and were adjusted to the temperatures and light levels out of doors (“hardened off”). I chose one with tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths. They had started to come up several inches.

Azalea pot with saucer on porch>

These drop-in pots are in rather nondescript black plastic, though. I figured that if I get other ready-made pots in other seasons (which I will), I should invest in a nice container for this one (which I did). I tried the liner in a lot of containers and finally chose a simple terra cotta azalea pot. An azalea pot is shallower than a traditional pot and happened to fit the Ready Refill liner best. I didn’t know yet if I wanted the pot on the porch or the patio, which would determine whether to use a saucer or pot feet. So I bought a saucer and the pot feet.

Back home I tried the container on the porch with the saucer.

Potted bulbs with birdbath>

Then I tried it on the patio with pot feet. I decided I liked it better there for now, but what to do with the brand-new saucer? Turns out it made the ideal birdbath. I was In need of one anyway.


Naturally, my lust for plants is not satisfied by a single pot, pleasing though it is. At this time of year, perennials, such as hellebores, make ideal container dwellers, and they’re usually in bloom and for sale in early spring.


Go and see what else catches your eye. The beauty of perennials is that when it’s time to plant up your summer pots, you can leave them where they are, as accents, or put them straight into the ground to make room for the new.

This cute little primula can’t help but raise a spring smile or two. When it’s finished blooming, make sure to plant it someplace moist and a little shady for cheery color year after year.

Petunias >

Other cold-hardy choices include pansies and petunias—yes, petunias. Most gardeners don’t think of them for early spring, but as soon as you find them for sale, you can pot them up and show them off outside. And don’t forget cool-season vegetables, like lettuce! They’re adorable and accessible in a container right outside the kitchen door.

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