CONTAINER-GROWN FLOWERS BRIGHTEN BARE SPOTS, by Larry Williams UF/IFAS Extension Agent

Do you have some drab, troublesome or hard-to-grow areas where you could use some color in your landscape? Try container-grown annual flowers.

There are areas in most landscapes where it is not practical nor possible to bring in the tiller and create a flowerbed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have color in those areas. A little imagination, a decorative container and appropriate plants can turn a bare spot into a splash of color.

Consider using a container of annuals to add color to a backyard deck or a paved entrance way. Or what about that area under the tree where grass doesn’t want to grow and where it would be difficult to till without damaging the tree’s roots and the tiller? How about the dry spot where there is no irrigation but where it would be more practical to occasionally hand water a well-placed container of colorful caladiums?

A wide variety of flowering annuals work will in containers. But be sure to select plants based on the exposure. Some annuals will quickly bake from full sun exposure and others will become leggy and bloom poorly in a shady location.

Impatiens and begonias do well in shaded places and remain in flower almost continuously. Caladiums also do well in containers in shady areas. They don’t bloom but they have colorful leaves.

It’s more difficult to grow container plants in full sun but there are some annuals to consider for sunny spots. Periwinkle or vinca (the annual not the vine) and all types of portulaca are heat tolerant and do well in full sun.

There are many other annuals that can be successfully grown in containers. You might like to try ageratum or salvia. In addition to annual salvia, there are numerous perennials types to try. And there are sun-tolerant begonia and coleus varieties for full-sun places.

Don’t be afraid to try something different. add a plant or two of hot peppers. They do well in containers and will provide color as the peppers turn from green to orange, red or even purple based on variety and how long you leave them unpicked. Of course if you enjoy hot peppers, you’ll want to pick some, too.

Plant your annuals in a big enough container. A three to five gallon container will allow the plants to grow. Also make sure the container has adequate drainage. You’ll have disappointing results if the plant’s roots stay too wet.  You potting media should drain well, also. A good quality commerical mix is excellent for growing annuals in containers.

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