Here’s a quick, and not dirty, way to keep pots bursting with color. Pick a pot, a window box, or other container and fill it with packaged potting soil. Now you have a place to garden for the entire season. Plug in long-lasting plants such as succulents, then tuck in a little flash-small daffodils or African daises. When the flowering plant is spent, remove and replace it. In some instances, you don’t even need to pull the plant out of its garden-store pot; just pop the whole thing into the planter.
Mix or match sun lovers or shade plants, depending on where you want to cultivate your container garden. Daffodils can play a starring role for a few weeks, then scoop them out with a trowel and replace them with something coming into bloom-a miniature rose or a patio clematis, for example-that will continue blooming all summer or possibly until killing frost in the fall.
Imagination, ample light, enough water, and the right temperatures are the keys to success. Plants do come and go quite naturally, so when something turns brown or stops flowering, remove it, and in the hole left behind, drop in something fresh that’s just caught your eye-guilt-free gardening!
Carpet any exposed soil between plants in containers when fern like selaginella, creeping sedum, creeping thyme-or polished stones.
Follow Daffodils With Roses
Miniature daffodils from a 6-inch pot nestle into a container bed of Blue Wonder campanulas and fernlike selaginellas. When the daffodils finish, use a trowel to remove their root ball and replace with miniature roses from a 6-inch pot; the roses will bloom all summer. Change out the roses in early fall and drop in their place a dwarf aster or chrysanthemum for the season’s last hurrah.
Go For The Orange Stars
Newly available, this South African bulb, a chincherinchee or ornithogalum, blooms from early spring to early summer in sun and temperatures above 40 degrees F. Drop the root balls into a planter with blue-green rosettes of echeverias; carpet any exposed soil with polished stones. This carefree tabletop garden will look beautiful indoors or out, as a deck or porch table centerpiece, or on a sideboard. If the planter has no drain holes, be sure to pour off excess water that could collect in the bottom.
When the Orange Stars finish blooming, around June, pull out the root balls and insert in their place two dwarf conifer trees. With the echeverias, the evergreens provide refreshing green to the end of the season requiring no deadheading or special care other than enough water to keep the root balls moist. Dwarf conifers can be planted in the garden before freezing weather or wintered over in a cool, sunny window. Keep echeverias barely moist over winter in a frost-free place-a sunny window or fluorescent-light garden.
Fit for a Tabletop
Set the scene in a round black galvanized tray with boldly beautiful succelents for all-season color-Desert Rose echeverias with glowing red leaf edges and a smaller variety with blue-green leaves. Add planting pots of seasonal flowers, such as the newly popular bi color lewisia, which blooms in luscious shades of yellow, pink, peach and rose. These long-blooming tidy plants are native to the western U.S. mountains. They need perfectly drained soil and plenty of sun. Removing spent flowers promotes another round of bloom. Fill in the tray with creeping sedum or selaginella and black polished stones.
Stack Pots for Drama
Here’s a little rose garden with the promise of all-season flowers. Fill a 10-inch pot with packaged potting soil. Set a 5-inch pot on top, in the center. Plug in miniature roses around the perimeter of the larger pot. Set an echeveria with red-edged leaves in the top pot. Place to grow in at least a half day of direct sun. Water the roses often enough to keep the soil moist; apply rose fertilizer regularly, as directed on the product label, and clip off any spent flowers. Miniature roses are cold-hardy if planted in the garden and watered well before frost. Winter over the echeveria in a sunny, warm window garden.
Aglow With Plants
Lanterns needn’t be for candles alone. Turn them into elegant greenhouses to showcase individual plants in peak bloom, such as lewisias. Position in bright diffused light, not in direct sun, lest the plants suffer from too much heat buildup inside the lantern. This idea works with any small seasonal flowering plant; simply drop it, in its growing pot, into unglazed clay, glazed ceramic, or your favorite cachepot. Enjoy a lantern garden as decoration for any occasion; then, depending on other plants used, you can transplant them to a larger container outdoors or into a garden bed.
Uplifting Tiny Roses
Today’s miniature roses have larger, longer lasting flowers on the most diminutive bushes imaginable. Grown from cuttings, the plants are brought to market in full bloom, growing in pots small enough to drop into a demitasse-or a pretty tin cup. Place several on a cake stand to center an entertaining table. They’re adorable favors for a child’s birthday party . Like all roses, these need a half day or more direct sun, fresh air, and soil that is consistently well-moistened. Clip off spent flowers and apply rose fertilizer diluted in water to promote more bloom.