The weather is warming up, the bees are buzzing, and now is the perfect time to freshen up your exterior containers! Summer annuals, vegetables and herbs, and even some trees and shrubs are all viable plant options for your containers!

Containers are great alternatives to raised beds and they add interest, provide space to grow food, and soften up any outdoor patio space around your home and/or workplace. Container plantings have multiple uses including adding lovely curb appeal to any business or home, providing an outdoor oasis for taking breaks at work, and offering privacy from your neighbors.

Setting the Stage for a Successful Container Performance

A container display is a concert. Annuals are the members of the band. While annuals only survive a course of one season, they pack a huge punch by adding vibrant colors to every container. Each season, people will wait a little while for the band or main attraction, but are anxiously yearning for the full blooms of the annuals.

Every concert and band needs to be supported by a team including sound crews, lighting crews, stage crews… the list goes on. In the exterior container “concert,” these work horses are the small trees, shrubs, grasses, and/or perennials that provide support to the annuals. This supporting plant crew offers texture, height, and interest in each container, while allowing the annuals to really take the show. These are the plants that will survive year after year, supporting “new bands” or “main attractions” as they come around each season.

For the container concert, you will also need a venue (the container) and a stage for the music (potting soil). Oh, and DO NOT forget to offer beverages and food to the crews and musicians (water and fertilizer)! This is a common oversight, but if you want your concert to thrive, you must give these refreshments regularly, especially during the growing season of summer.

YOU are the audience! You get to decide what kind of music or theme your container concert will play. The container concert can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you are trying to organize a large show, but like music, container plantings offer wonderful ambience for any outdoor space. If you need help setting the stage, selecting the band, or managing the concerts for your containers, Urban Plantscapes can offer the support you need!

For a great concert, try the following:

The Band: Annuals

Lantana: These summer annuals have long-lasting vibrantly colored blooms in a variety of colors. They prefer full sun. You would most likely see Lantana touring with Carlos Santana.

Non-Stop Begonias: These summer annuals bloom consistently throughout the summer months. They prefer dappled or full shade. You would most likely see these begonias touring with Eminem.

The Crew: Evergreen Shrubs & Perennials

Fernspray Hinoki Cypress: This is a great shrub or small tree that can be used as the “centerpiece” of a container providing year-round interest it is one of my favorites! Prefers full sun but can handle dappled shade. You would most likely see this Fernspray supporting bands like million bells and Eddie Vedder.

Mahonia repens (Creeping Oregon Grape): This evergreen native is a lower growing Oregon grape whose new growth this time of year is an amazing light green and in the fall/winter months turns a burgundy color. Needless to say, it offers abundant interest in any container planting. It prefers dappled shade. You would most likely see this variety of mahonia supporting bands like Dahlias and Lady Gaga.

Variegated Liriope: This versatile grass like perennial adds so much flair and year-round interest! In addition to the amazing variegated foliage, in summer it will have small purple flowers that are attractive but not over bearing. It does spread, but not as aggressively as a carex grass so proves to be a better option grown in a container. This has done well for me in both sun and shade. You would most likely see Liriope supporting bands like Geraniums and Paul Simon.

Casting the Band

Setting the Stage

The Concert Has Begun