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Your Guide to Container Gardening

It’s time to create colorful plantings in your favorite pots or in new containers. Let’s up our game with Thriller, Filler, Spiller  2.0 by adding different textures or placing the plants in a non-traditional way in the container.

A quick review: Thriller is the focal point of the pot, the “wow” factor.  Filler is the plants that compliment the Thriller and fill in the rest of the space.  Spiller is a plant that drapes over the side of the container.

Switch it up and plant your Thriller in the back of the pot leaving room in front for layers of Filler plants ending with the Spiller cascading over the side of the container.  This creates more interest in the pot and accents different plants from different viewing angles.    

Using plants with different textures – flowing grasses, spiky leaves, small or large leaves – turns ho-hum into spectacular.  Use succulents and sedums in low bowls and place them on tables or ground level for an eclectic, clean look.

Keeping it Simple: A list of Thriller, Filler, Spiller plant suggestions for sun or shade containers is located in our Color House for your convenience.  

Below are 2 examples of large container plant-o-grams to get you started.

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13 GREAT Groundcovers

Do you have bare spots in your yard where grass won’t grow?   Under a large tree that is too shady for grass?  A slope or steep area?  If you’ve answered “YES!” to any of these questions, you may need a groundcover to solve your issue.

What is a groundcover? The definitive answer would be “Any one of a group of low-lying plants with a creeping, spreading habit that are used to cover sections of ground with minimal maintenance.”

Groundcovers can be used in so many ways:   

  • mass plantings in your actual landscape,
  • adding color to a rock garden,
  • use in skinny walkway beds,
  • introducing new colors and textures to your garden beds,  
  • erosion area

Ajuga

Also known as ‘Bugleweed’

This evergreen perennial (stays green all year) has a ground-hugging habit of growth. Ajuga sends up beautiful electric blue blooms that rise above its foliage from mid to late spring. It attracts butterflies but not deer. Ajuga loves to spread, plant in part-shade, and watch her thrive!

Japanese Ardisia

Also known as ‘Maleberry’

Japanese Ardisia shows off a rich, green color and dainty clusters of pink star-shaped flowers at the ends of its branches during spring, and red berries in mid fall. This multi-stemmed evergreen shrub is perfect for areas that are shaded, moist and cool. Reaching a spread of 3 feet, this part-shade to full shade lover makes for an excellent groundcover (and an excellent houseplant!).

Sedge

Also known as ‘Carex’

Sedge is a vigorous, mound-forming evergreen with striking, grassy foliage. The gracefully arching stems of this plant bring a fine and delicate addition to any garden. This groundcover is relatively low-maintenance, and does well in partial shade or full shade, and spreads up to 16 inches. Many native varieties of Sedge cultivar are right here among us in East Texas! Sedge makes a great border edging, mass planting, and also works well in mixed containers.

Coral Bells

Also known as ‘Heuchera’

Coral Bells is an evergreen perennial with tall flower stalks held atop a low mound of foliage. These tiny, delicate flowers come in as many colors as its foliage does, from lime green to purple! This low-growing plant is relatively low-maintenance and a good choice for attracting butterflies. Coral Bells are perfect for containers, mass plantings, borders and rock gardens. This evergreen can take full sun or full shade and can spread up to 18 inches.

Japanese Pachysandra

Showing out in a rich, emerald color, Pachysandra is an evergreen that looks amazing year-round. Spreading up to 1 ½ feet at maturity, this perennial does best in part shade to morning sun. The bold, dark green leaves make for a fantastic groundcover, or border for walkways. Small, bright white flowers appear in early spring – though not particularly showy, the flowers offer an ornate addition against the green background.

‘Blue Rug’ Juniper

This ground-hugging Juniper features silvery-blue foliage that takes on a nearly purple tinge during winter and produces blue berries from late spring to late winter. A dense, multi-stemmed evergreen, ‘Blue Rug’ Juniper is extremely adaptable and hardy – making for a great groundcover or border, or even trailing over walls. A lover of full sun to part shade, this Juniper can reach a spread of up to 7 feet!

Creeping Phlox

Also known as ‘Moss Phlox’

Creeping Phlox puts on a show of bright, cherry red, blue or white star-shaped flowers at the ends of the stems from early to late spring. It’s tiny, needle-like leaves remain green in color throughout the year. This evergreen blanket of flowers does best in full sun to part-shade, which makes it perfect for border edging, mass planting or general ground cover. At maturity, Creeping Phlox can spread up to 18 inches.

Sedum

Ground cover sedums are a form of succulents that are winter hardy and stay green throughout the year.  These are heat loving plants that grow well in full sun or partial sun and are drought tolerant! They come in a variety of colors, some have variegated leaves and bloom in late Summer through Fall.  Use in rock gardens, as ground cover in landscape beds, as spillers in containers or in hanging baskets. 

Delosperma

Also known as ‘Ice Plant’

This is a multi-purpose plant with succulent type foliage.  It blooms in bright colors from Spring through Fall, stays green throughout the winter, loves full sun and heat but will also perform in partial sun.  Good for rock gardens, a spiller in containers, and in hanging baskets.

Standard Mondo Grass

This old standby is an evergreen perennial with grass like stems and small purple flower spikes which bloom throughout the Spring and Summer.  It is slow growing and spreads through runners.  It can be easily divided and moved to other areas and requires minimal care once established.   Mass plantings are striking – giving the appearance of a deep green lawn.  Plant in shade or part shade.

Asian Jasmine

This woody stemmed favorite grows well in a variety of soils and conditions.  It is a great erosion control on slopes and on the side of creeks or ditches.  It can be cut with a weedeater or even with a mower set on the highest setting if it becomes too tall for the area.  Plant in partial sun to full sun.

English Ivy

Another shade loving groundcover which keeps its dark green color year-round.  This plant runs along the ground and sets roots along the stem.  It can become invasive and grow up into trees if not contained. 

Creeping Thyme

Evergreen flowering herb that is covered with a blanket of pink-purple blossoms in the Spring.  It can handle some light foot traffic and reaches a height of 3”.  Grows in full sun to partial shade.

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Hydrangeas: The Colorful, Bloom-filled, and Shade-loving Shrub

Many flowering plants are given as gifts on Mother’s Day and I’d say Hydrangeas top the list in popularity.  With so many colors and bloom types to choose from it is easy to choose a different variety each year.endless-summer-shrubs-2634b3-64_1000

Japanese legend associates heartfelt emotion, gratitude for understanding and apology with the hydrangea after a Japanese emperor neglected the girl he loved in favor of business and gave hydrangeas to her family to show how much he cared for her.

In addition, hydrangeas are beautiful plants that have evolved from the big ball-shaped flowers to lacecap flowers consisting of clusters of tiny blooms accented by larger blooms and large cone-shaped panicle flowers.  The colors range from white, pink, blue, purple and multicolor and even blooms that change colors as the flower matures.

endle summer blue hydrangeaThese beauties require shade and can handle some morning sun.  They like a well-draining soil that is kept moist but not soggy.  Mulching will help moisture retention and cool the soil in the summer heat.  They will bloom throughout the season giving you a lot of showy blooms.  An added bonus is that they easily make great dried flowers.

IMPORTANT:  Hydrangeas are deciduous and lose their leaves during winter.  Do no prune them at this time or you will cut off buds and will have no flowers.  Prune right after they are through blooming.   They develop blooms on previous year’s growth, so cut only stems that produced flowers this year or do not prune at all. Panicle hydrange

If you have a shady spot in your landscape add a hydrangea and enjoy their many blooms.  No shade in the yard – then plant in a container and place it on a shaded patio or porch.  These lovely ladies are wonderful additions and it is easy to see why they are such a popular gift.

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