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South Central Gardening: Spring Containers

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Discover some colorful plant ideas for spring containers just right for Oklahoma and Texas.

Tulips and pots

By Susan Albert

Spring container gardens bring instant beauty to porches, patios, decks, and yards. Who can resist a dazzling pot of pansies, tulips, and anemones?

If you typically plant spring-blooming bulbs in fall, don’t forget to add some to a container. Bold, cheery tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths in a pot are a great pick-me-up for the end of winter. If you forget to plant in the fall, Lowe’s garden centers usually stock planted bulbs early in the season that are ready to bloom.

Some of the earliest annuals and perennials typically include candytuft, dianthus, primula, stock, snapdragon, begonia, geranium, anemone, petunia, pansy, verbena, coralbells, hosta, grasses, and potted spring-blooming bulbs. And they are all suitable for pot culture in Oklahoma and Texas.


To make a container garden, select a pot with drainage holes. If the container doesn’t have any, you can make them using a drill. Next, fill the pot almost to the top with good potting soil. Do not use soil from the garden; it is too heavy and may contain unwanted organisms.

For a full container start with a tall plant in the center or toward the back, then add a layer of medium-size plants around it, and fill in with trailing plants that spill over the edges. But you can do whatever strikes your fancy; use one kind of plant or combine several.

Chinese fringe flower

Container gardens for sun:

1. The shrub Chinese fringe flower (Loropetalum chinense Razzleberri) combines with verbena (Lanai Twister series) along with silvery dusty miller for midlevel texture and interest. In the clay pot pansies and dianthus surround candytuft (Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’), one of my favorite early perennials. It blooms early and for several weeks with bright-white flowers.


2. These pink, double tulips resemble peony flowers. These were planted last fall, but garden centers offer potted bulbs in the spring. I added pansies, violas, and petunias around the edge of the pot after the tulips emerged. 


Container garden for shade:

Here I mixed the perennial coralbells (Heuchera ‘Melting Fire’) with two colors of annual impatiens. I divided and added a Scotch moss (Sagina subulata ‘Aurea’) just for fun to see what it does. Coralbells sends up spires of tiny flowers that hummingbirds love.

Pink-flowering almond

More plants suitable for container gardens:

  • For height – Ornamental grass, foxtail fern, dracaena spike, dwarf canna, caladium, coleus, dahlia
  • For midlevel – Lantana, penta, angelonia, impatiens, begonia, marigold, globe amaranth, geranium, vinca, Gerbera daisy, pansy, candytuft, anemone, primula
  • For trailers – Petunia hybrid, verbena, trailing lantana, pennywort, calibrachoa, asparagus fern, bacopa, sweet potato varieties
  • Small or dwarf shrubs are ideal for containers. Try butterfly bush, pink-flowering almond, hydrangea, rose, and tropical hibiscus. The pink-flowering almond blooms early with wonderful pink puffs! When it outgrows the pot, move it into the garden.
  • Spring hanging baskets may include petunia, fuchsia, dragon-wing begonia, impatiens, pansy, and million bells (Calibrachoa). Fuchsia is another favorite of hummingbirds.

When combined, monochromatic colors give a softer look; contrasting colors pop with a bolder look. You can experiment with the color wheel to try different combinations.

Finally, add a little mulch or compost on top of the soil to help maintain moisture. Fertilize with a time-release formula every two months.


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