Petite Plantings

Make a big statement in a small container garden.

An enormous pot stuffed with variegated coleus.
An enormous pot stuffed with variegated coleus and blooming bacopa, lantana, begonia and petunia.
Photo courtesy of Scenic Landscaping.

We get it. Not everyone has a sprawling yard to plant, nor the time—let alone the desire—to maintain it. Others may simply want to make a statement near the front door or in a corner of the patio. That’s why container gardening—elaborate plantings of flowers and plants in oversize urns and pots—has become increasingly popular. “Working in a garden can be a long commitment for the whole growing season,” says Rich Cording, a landscape designer based in Ringwood. “If you plant a container, you can still hit all the seasons without all the labor.” The key to success, he explains, is picking the right plant material. Here are his top choices:

Hellebore, also known as Lenten rose, should be planted in early April; it’s hearty enough to handle a spring frost. Its pretty flowers, in a variety of colors—including white, pink and dark burgundy/purple—bloom for many weeks. A bonus: Deer spurn it. Other deer-resistant plants? Cording suggests calamint, iris and lemongrass.

Angelina Sedum
This succulent has spiky-looking but soft-to-the-touch yellow foliage perfect for edging a container. Requiring minimal maintenance in full sun, it contrasts nicely with almost any other plant or flower.

Golden Hakone Grass
Providing beautiful gold foliage from April through October, this perennial will return to your container year after year. It’s ideal for shady areas.

Golden Creeping Jenny
Another perennial, this eye-catching gold-toned plant drapes beautifully, cascading over the sides of a container. It’s easy to grow but needs to be watered frequently during hot summer months.

A member of the mint family, calamint’s tiny white flowers are often mistaken for baby’s breath. The big difference? The smell of mint. “Simply walking by this plant, one gets a waft of a pleasant, minty scent,” says Cording. Bees love calamint, he warns, so plant it in a container away from any sitting area.

Rozanne Geranium
“This perennial is a champion in containers,” Cording says. Its pretty blue-purple flowers start blooming in late May and continue nonstop until early August. “The plant will mound up in a container as well as cascade over the sides,” he says. “It’s a real knockout.”

Southern Comfort Coral Bells
This attractive blend of peach, amber and purple foliage lasts literally year-round, even surviving frost. During summer months, pretty white flowers bloom above the leaves.

A genus of some 45 species of tall grasses, lemongrass is used to make citronella oil. Plant it generously anywhere, because it wards off mosquitoes.

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