August 2, 2009

Container Garden: Just Peachy In the Shade

How do you select plants and flowers for a container garden? I like to walk around acres of greenhouses to see what is interesting for the focal point! Yes, it is time-consuming, but a lot of fun - if you can find suitable plants.

Finding a tall, spiky plant for a shade container almost had me baffled for awhile until I asked for some help at the greenhouse. An indoor plant for my zone 7, Dracaena marginata 'Tricolor', was suggested for my pair of outdoor summer containers. Tropical zones can grow this one outside year round, but I will have to bring these inside to overwinter.

The beautiful colors in the Dracaena marginata 'Tricolor' gave me cues for companions. The green, white and peachy stripes of the leaves are easy to use in a centerpiece plant. I decided to look for peach blooms and headed for the impatiens section.

I found a gorgeous impatiens, Fusion Peach Frost, to use as an accent plant. These impatiens were a bit expensive, so I purchased only one for each container. Little did I know that only one of these plants would later take over the large containers to steal all the attention! This is an annual that mounds beautifully and blooms non-stop. The delicate peach blossoms have a darker peach throat. The hummingbirds buzz up onto the front porch to sip from these lovely plants!

Keeping the budget in mind for the fillers, I selected a cell-pack of begonias for the waxy leaves with deeper orange-pink blooms than the impatiens. This is another annual with blooms that are loved by the hummingbirds.

Merlot Coleus adds a touch of darkness while Red Ruffles provides a touch of orange-red foliage. I already had Red Ruffles growing in my garden, so I lifted a plant or two to stuff the container a bit more.

When I say "stuff" a container, that is what I typically do for annual plantings. However, in the case of using this large impatiens, it's a good thing that I used only one!

For comparison and growth rate, the top photo was taken in late June, one month after planting the containers. The bottom photo was taken in late July, two months after planting. I used a good potting mix and have not fertilized the plants at all since planting in late May. Only the coleus have been pinched back to prevent blooms.

Photos and words by Freda Cameron
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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