Spring planting season is in full swing. A trip to my local home store last week showed me that that gardening bug had bitten lots of people.
We all want to have beautiful gardens in the summer. But who wants to spend hours and hours tending plants that are high maintenance or just don't do well? Not me.
I love to garden but I also like to 'set it and forget it'. Meaning, I want to plant something and have it look great with very little maintenance. Impossible, you say? Not really.
The trick is not to get too caught up in picking the most unusual plants that you can find. Sure, we all want to have something unique, different from our friends and neighbors. I used to spend hours scouring local nurseries and Amish and Mennonite greenhouses ( and where I live we have tons of them) to find new and unique plants. Only to have them languish and die because they needed too much care for my busy schedule.
So finally, I decided to get over myself and go with the intent to find plants that looked great all summer and would work well in my yard with little to no attention on my part.
So how did you figure that out, you ask?
Well, first decide where you want to plant flowering plants. Will you have containers on your deck or do you plan to add some color to your existing landscape beds? Make a list - yes, write it down.
Next figure out how much sun and shade each area gets in hours/day. Note this next to each area and add a designation from the list below:
- Full Sun: More than 6 hours of sun/day
- Part Sun: 4-6 hours of sun /day
- Part Shade: 2-4 hours of sun/day
- Shade: Less than 2 hours of sun/day
Lastly if you are planting in existing beds look at soil moisture for those beds. Are they well-drained, dry or very damp. Again note this on your list.
Plants at the nursery should have tags designating not only how tall they get and how far apart they should be spaced but how much sun or shade they will tolerate and whether the plants likes well-drained or moist soil.
Take all of this into consideration when choosing your plants. It is very tempting to find something that will 'look perfect' in a given spot and not consider what the plant needs to do well. Choosing the right plant for the right location is key.
The other thing I look for when I go to a nursery is Proven Winners. These are plants that have been tested over and over again to ensure great performance in the area in which they are sold. If I can find a petunia that is a proven winner I will take it over one that is not.
So let's look at a few examples:
Here is a photo of my deck. The planters along the front of the deck get 6+ hours of sunlight but the planters along the sides only get about 4 hours worth of sun.
So I needed to find different plants for the side planters vs the front planters. I usually use sun-loving Petunias in the front planters.
For the planters on each side, I use shade tolerant plants like Begonias and Coleus.
Here is a photo of one of the sunniest areas of my yard. This bed gets right around 6 hours of sun per day in most of the bed. However, the back of the bed is in shade most of the day. So in the rear part of the bed I planted the perennial Monkshood or Aconitum click here for more information. Do not grow this around children or pets that like to sample the foliage in your yard as it is poisonous. It is not very interesting during the summer, but it's green foliage provides a nice backdrop to the other plants in the bed. In the fall it provides beautiful purple blooms throughout most of October.
In this photo, the rest of the bed is planted with sun-loving annuals. At a later time, I'll add perennials so I won't need to replant every year.
By choosing the right plant for the right spot in your yard, you will be rewarded with lots of beautiful blooms all summer long and will not have to 'baby' plants that struggle to grow.
Now it's time to go out into your garden and relax!