Who doesn’t like stepping out of their front door on a beautiful July morning and being greeted by the birds, the sun, the morning dew, and of course your beautiful planters that you put so much time and effort into in May that are now showing their true beauty.
You start your planter with a showpiece sun-loving plant – like a Mandevilla, Draveana Spike, Dragon-Wing Begonia, Hibiscus, or Grass (just to mention a few fan-favourites). Usually we like to plant the showpiece in the centre or centre-back of the planter. There are hundreds of other options, but we have had lots of success with the plants mentioned above.
After the centerpiece is chosen and installed, you will then step down to the four-inch pot varieties. These could be any type of sun Impatien (note that due to the Downy Mildew disease, normal cell pack Impatiens are no longer recommended), Tuberous Begonia, or Gerannium (note that Geranniums need regular dead-heading so while beautiful, they do require a bit more work).
After the centerpiece and step-down flowers have been installed, you will likely want to focus on filler plants, unless of course your planter is very large and you have enough room for another step of flowers. Recommended filler plants are Fiberous Begonias or Marigolds (for a pop of yellow or orange colour). Your local garden centre may have other options and you should really at this stage go with something that catches your eye. At this stage, you can’t really choose wrong as the four inch pots that you planted in the last step will eventually take over the filler plants. With that said, however, you will need to add more fillers to avoid any early-on bare spots – which will likely exist until approximately July.
Now that you have completed the centerpiece, the step-down flowers (maybe one or two layers, depending on the size of your planter), and the fillers, it is time to focus on the finishing touches. Vines, Ivy, Ivy Geranniums, and Lobelia look amazing hanging or draping from your planter – this will add platform and depth to your planter. These flowers also serve a practical purpose – their health are a good indicator of how much (or how little) water your planter is getting.
We have touched on “sun” planters – that is, planters that are exposed to practically full-sun. When working with shade planters, you do have far fewer options – you might want to stick to a grass in the centre (that is at least part-shade) and more leafy annuals like Coleus, Caladium, Ferns and Hypoestes. You may experience success with New Guinea Impatiens, but you might find that they prefer more sun than part-shade. When looking for Ivy, just make sure that you find a variety that works in the shade (you will likely be fine with most varieties found in southern Ontario).
Annuals are great for a number of reasons… they provide amazing colours and are changeable – if you dislike it this year, take note and change it up next year for minimal cost compared to perennial planting. Good luck and happy planting!