May We Please Plant Our Containers Now?

Who are we kidding? Many of us already planted our containers. Me, myself and I included. (Hey, you try walking through our annuals department everyday and not buy something--anything--to plant in a container.) Still, safe over sorry. Unless you're able to cover your plants if another cold night hits or, move them indoors, Brenna Henley, BB Barns container designer, suggests we wait until around Mother's Day. Read on for more tips from Brenna.

1. Can we plant our containers now?

Brenna:

The safest date is Mother's Day (Sunday, May 8th, this year). The last week of April, watch for how the weather is trending and judge based on the forecast whether or not to plant early. I haven't pulled the trigger on my client's installs yet, but when I do it's going to be crazy. Everyone is ready.

These chartreuse containers with the pale yellow/orange begonias make a killer combination.

These chartreuse containers with the pale yellow/orange begonias make a killer combination.

2. Is there anything we can plant now?

Brenna: 

Alyssum will melt once heat comes. Petunias love heat, but thrive on cool conditions as well. These are good plants for transitioning from spring to summer planters. They're good ones to add to your winter containers where cabbages died.

A lot of sun/part sun plants are fine even when temps dip into 40's but be careful of planting shade plants too early. They are more on the cold sensitive side. This would be your begonias, coleus, and so forth. Mother's Day is a more reasonable time for them.

Marguerite daisies love the cool weather of spring and fall, but not the heat. Their fine foliage looks great as a textural component when not in bloom.

Marguerite daisies love the cool weather of spring and fall, but not the heat. Their fine foliage looks great as a textural component when not in bloom.

3. You do all the fabulous containers we see around the store, and we're envious! we want to do containers like that. Got any design tips?

Brenna:

When designing your planters keep these things in mind:

  1. What is your goal?
  2. What is your maintenance level? Let's be realistic here.
  3. What is your sun exposure?

These 3 things can make or break a design.

Hardy succulents are fine outdoors now, without the worry of damaging frost, but be sure to ask staff which ones are hardy and which ones aren't.

Hardy succulents are fine outdoors now, without the worry of damaging frost, but be sure to ask staff which ones are hardy and which ones aren't.

 If the pots are going to be seen from far away, use 3 elements with bold colors, and the simpler the design, the bigger the splash.

Or, try a white theme or blue theme, which cools things down in the dead of summer heat. Try a few tropicals this year (houseplants). That pink cordyline (dracena) is a fabulous statement in pots.

Always use the tried and true formula when designing: Upright, fill and spill.

If your evergreens are still hanging out in your winter pots, spruce them up with a few spring annuals like pansies or petunias.

If your evergreens are still hanging out in your winter pots, spruce them up with a few spring annuals like pansies or petunias.

4. How do we care for our containers?

Brenna:

Knowing your sun/shade is crucial, but watering can't be said enough. Root drench your pots 2x a week. When you initially plant, use Osmocote and Biotone. Then, as the weather warms up and the watering schedule increases, use the Bloom Booster Miracle Grow every 7-10 days. Plants like gardenia, bougainvillea, and mandevilla, especially, are heavy feeders. 

If you just can't stand it, go for a hanging basket, always easy to pop into the garage.

If you just can't stand it, go for a hanging basket, always easy to pop into the garage.

Today is April 17th (a mere 21 days until Mother's Day) with a predicted high of 75 sunny degrees. Are we really going to listen to the expert and wait? Before we hasten, let's remember last Sunday morning with a moment of silence, then maybe buy a hanging basket to tide us over.

Written by Cinthia Milner, OSA, Garden Coach, blog writer.

BB Barns serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.