All Season Containers

Early spring container by Leigh Barnes
Early spring container by Leigh Barnes-Tulips, violas, grape hyacinth, daffodils, allysum, salvia,and nemesia

Most people wait until mid to late May to plant their containers because of a chance of cold snaps, but I have been busy planting for weeks using plants that are cold tolerant, using bulbs, cool season annuals and perennials. For my most viewed post ever on containers, check out Not Your Ordinary Container-Containers With Pizzazz!

Shade Container
Shade Container

My Favorites

Bulbs only last a few weeks, but you can easily slip them out of the container and plant in one of your garden beds for a show next year. Leaving an empty spot that you can plug-in some annuals for a warmer season, like verbenas and petunias, containers can be transformed with the addition and subtraction of several plants and emerge with a completely different look.

Bulbs in containers

Violas are an early season staple that look good for about 6 weeks until the hot weather starts and then they are toast. See my post on Violas to see how many ways you can use this versatile plant. They give you a quick early boost of color which can be removed when the violas start to fade and then you can insert something more heat tolerant.

Viola Etain is one of my favorites
Viola Etain is one of my favorites

Mixing a melange of perennials, annuals, bulbs, and small shrubs early creates a container that will last through the season with tweaks throughout the year. Make sure that you take care of your container with good drainage, an essential for any plantings. I like to elevate my container off the ground so that it can drain properly. A plant stand or pot feet are perfect for the task.

Pot feet keeps the container elevated so that water can drain off

Woodland Phlox is a great perennial that lasts for 6 to 8 weeks and is highly fragrant. When finished, pop it into the garden and replace it with something else blooming.

Woodland Phlox(light purple) is highly fragrant and lasts for weeks


List of Early Flowering Plants for Containers

  • Annuals-alyssum, african daisy, lobelia, pansies, snap dragons, gerber daisies, english daisies

  • Bulbs- tulips, daffodils, grape hyacinths, scilla, crocus, hyacinths, alliums, lilies

  • Perennials-pulmonaria, columbine, bleeding heart, woodland phlox, variegated yucca, candytuft, coral bells, scabiosa, violas, bleeding heart, brunnera, lobelia, lamium, woodland phlox, primrose, armeria, poppies

  • Shrubs-heather, pieris, broom, blue star juniper, dwarf rhododendron, blueberries

Early spring color
Coral bells, dwarf Rhododendron, bleeding heart, brunnera, and lobelia
Purple Gem Rhododendron makes this container shine
Lava Lamp Coral Bells, Violas, Millenial Allium, Lobelia, and Lamium

Coral Bells

Coral Bells or the Heuchera family are my must have for spring containers. Coral Bells emerge early and have perfect foliage colors that you can match to your blooms and foliage of the other plants in your container. There are literally hundreds of shades and varieties of this plant and you can never have enough of them! Known for foliage rather than flowers, Coral Bells are probably my favorite plant for borders and containers.

An array of Coral Bells in a greenhouse
An array of Coral Bells in a greenhouse
Coral Bells Fire Alarm
Coral Bells Fire Alarm
Coral Bells 'Grape Expectations'
Coral Bells ‘Grape Expectations’

If you start with a good potting medium that has lots of compost and perlite to aerate the soil, you can keep your container healthy for years. I make sure to fertilize all my containers regularly with a diluted fertilizer so that my plants are happy and healthy!

7 Replies to “All Season Containers”

  1. Beautiful! You inspire me to get started filling my containers! This was a bad winter and some need replacing. I blame it on our erratic temperatures last winter here in MD…lots of freezing and thawing. Can you share where that gorgeous hot house of coral belles is located? Are they retail, or just to the trade?

  2. Love seeing the coral bells. I have Fire Alarm and plan on getting some other variety.
    Thanks for this information,.

Leave a Reply