Tricks to Growing Mixed Containers
By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin
Create a dramatic focal point or plant a pair of containers and create a spectacular entryway with some simple tricks for getting started. First, decide what kind of look you’re trying to create. Do you want a cascading look or a stand-tall majestic pot? Maybe you want a little bit of both which is what we've created with our Guardian Gate Collection. The centerpiece is an upright Cyperus Papyrus while the red Christmas Candy Begonia has a branching habit and the blue Scaevola has a weeping, cascading habit. The combination of color and form bring beauty and majesty to the summer garden.
|Guardian Gate Collection|
Second, choose similar growth rates. Of all the decisions in putting a mixed container together, this is the most important. Make sure if one plant has a vigorous growth habit that your other varieties can grow at the same rate or at least hold their own. Otherwise, one variety may overtake the other. For example our Sweet Potato Vines (Ipomeas) make an excellent addition to a mixed container for their fast growth and creeping habit but if they’re put in the same pot with a Rex begonia, the begonia has little chance to grow into its full glory. Some fast growing varieties that compliment each other are ipomoeas, heliotropiums, colocasias, angelonias, cyperus (both the papyrus and the dwarf variety), impatiens repens, plumbagos, and the helichrysum petiolare. Three begonias that we like to use in mixed containers are begonia ‘Christmas Candy’ and begonia ‘Encanto Red’ or ‘Encanto Orange.’ Most of the Angel wings, Rexes and Rhizomatous begonias need to be grown as a 4-5” pot before they are ready for a mixed container. They can also be planted with slower growing plants. These plants will take a few more weeks to bring them into their fullness but still in the northern growing season a mid-to-late summer mixed containers can take up the slack with waning perennials or failing annuals. Some plants that are slower growing but longer lasting than typical annuals or perennials are Bouvardia ternifoila, all varieties of justicias, Scutellaria costaricana, Ivy (Hedera helix) or the ivy and fancy-leaf geraniums.
Third, choose complementary colors. Like any artist we would not just paint with one tone of yellow, we might add a splash of pink or dusty rose. Often the greater the contrast in color tones, the more stunning the statement.
Fourth, height creates drama. Cascading plants create whimsy and softness. We recommend a focal point with height and cascading or weeping plants to compliment the centerpiece. The Guardian Gate Collection makes a spectacular statement in the summer garden with its tall Papyrus and cascading red begonias and blue scaevola.