A Kansas Country Garden: Thinking About Containers

A few thoughts on gardening in containers:
This grouping includes succulents, herbs and vines. All the containers are similar in color.
    1.   Containers are a great place to plant herbs. Not everyone wants or has the time or space to grow a full fledged vegetable garden, but a few herbs in a pot? Almost anyone can do that! In the photo above there are containers with parsley, basil, rosemary and thyme. I have lots of other herbs in various parts of the garden, but these are my "must haves" just a few steps out my back door. What they do for summer cooking is well worth the effort.

    Morning glories climb on the arbor.This is a what-not-to-do photo.

    2.    When arranged in groups, the containers should be a similar color. They don't have to be the same size, shape or type. You can combine a variety of plants and flower colors (although be careful there, too) but the containers should be the same color.  The photo on the right is from a few years back when I used several different colored containers (they don't all show). The grouping never felt quite right and I think that's why. 
    Similarly colored pots. The succulent in the middle blooms ALL the time. The side plants are a begonia and asparagus fern.


    Only succulents could ever be happy in this very small terracotta planter. It dries out very quickly.
    This ancient aloe vera plant is huge!

    My last purchase at the end-of-season half price sale.
    3.   Plant what will be happy in your garden. If you're gardening in Kansas or anywhere else where temperatures are hot, hot, hot and it's dry, dry, dry, try succulents. By succulents, I am referring to plants with fleshy leaves which the plant uses to retain water. There are many kinds and I am no expert, just a admirer. Grown mostly for their foliage, they come in a variety of interesting shapes and colors. Some are true annuals while others are perennials that have graced my garden for many years by spreading and multiplying greatly. Then there are cold sensitive succulents which must come inside for the winter if you want to keep them (and I always do.) When other plants (and humans, too!) cower and cringe in the heat, succulents thrive. You have to water them often, of course, but make sure the soil drains well. Sitting in water will get them long before lack of water will. 
    Purslane comes in several colors including this cheerful cherry color. 

    I must mention purslane, an annual succulent which has become a favorite. The simple flowers open about mid-morning and they just keep on coming throughout the summer. 

    Speaking of happy plants--this aloe vera plant (left) had multiplied from one plant to this in about a year. Photo was taken in early spring when I was bringing my plants outside for the summer. I divided this into about 20 plants which I replanted (notice lots of aloe vera in all my containers and even in the ground) and I also gave many away.



















    The container now sits on the front porch and began the summer with just one aloe vera plant with this lovely moss rose for a companion.
    Other favorite plants for containers:
    Sweet potato vine (chartreuse plant) makes a great container plant. There are several varieties.
    Vinca works well in containers and can stand the heat.
    Coleus come in some many different colors and sizes. Most love shade, but some tolerate sun.
    I am fond of the airplane plant in this container.
    Can you identify this plant? (See photo #3 above).

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