Potted Plants for All Seasons

Potted plants make wonderful additions to the yard right through the year—even in winter. With a small army of pots of various sizes tucked away in the garden shed or behind the garage or barn, you can create a moveable garden of potted plants for each season. These portable gardens get their start “out back” somewhere, where they wait backstage for their grand entrance when it’s “curtain call” time for them. The key to success in these seasonal potted gardens is planning and timing. Make your plans on paper for the varieties of plants you want to display for each season, then “plant ahead” so those particular plants will be ready for display in conjunction with their season.

Think tulips, daffodils, crocuses, and hyacinths for early spring. Tuck them in the bottom of pots in late winter and top them with cool season annuals such as pansies and dwarf blue irises. Pot up early-blooming perennials in the fall and they can also be stars of the spring potted garden. Consult with your local garden-center expert to learn varieties of other spring flowers that can be easily grown in pots. And don’t forget to include colorful, tasty greens—lettuces, spinach and chard—they look great in pots.

This is the big show—the main event—the perfect season for creating and exhibiting pots full of lush, colorful, show-stopping flowers. Start them early in your potting shed or basement (with grow lights). Or, purchase healthy annuals that already have a head start from your local nursery. And don’t forget to pot up some summertime-blooming perennials during the fall to participate in this chorus line. For an exotic look, mix sun-loving annuals and perennials with semitropical plants, some for height, some for texture, and some for cascading down the sides of the pots.

Chrysanthemums and ornamental cabbage take the stage here. But there are many other fall-blooming plants, including pineapple sage, goldenrod, asters, confederate rose, and ornamental grasses. Plan your traditional “pumpkin display” in advance. Set pots of autumn plants around your pumpkins, add a few dried cornstalks, and set your favorite, dressed-up scarecrow down beside them. The neighbors and neighbors’ children will enjoy this festive scene.

Few plants bloom in the winter, but don’t let that keep you from having beautiful pots to decorate your home. Many garden centers have small, one-gallon pots of hardy evergreens, such as juniper, cotoneaster, and boxwood. In many Southern states, pansies will survive the winters with a colorful display. Small conifers offer excellent interest in pots. As Christmas season nears, decorate them as tiny Christmas trees. Pots of poinsettias can also brighten the inside of your home at this time of year. Pinecones and a display of cut greenery, such as magnolia leaves and ivy with stalks of dried ornamental grasses for height make attractive pots. And for fragrance and pure, white color inside during the bleak darkness of winter, start planting paperwhite bulbs in pots in November. In a number of pots, stagger these plantings in every two weeks until late February, and you’ll have blooms through March.