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Best Flowers for Container Gardening | Perennials & Annuals | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Container Gardening with Flowers

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Catherine Boeckmann
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Choosing the Best Perennials and Annuals for Containers

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Container gardening with flowers is a great way to instantly introduce color, fragrance, and beauty into our lives. It makes flowers part of any landscape—even on a deck, patio, porch, or balcony! See our tips for growing flowers in containers.

The Best Flowers for Containers

Perennial Flowers

Perennials offer some of the most beautiful flowers out there—with the added bonus that they’ll come back every year! Here are some of our favorite perennials suitable for containers:

  • Astilbe
  • Bee balm
  • Bergenia
  • Bleeding heart
  • Coneflower
  • Evening primrose
  • Daylily hybrids
  • Hostas (dwarf or miniature varieties)
  • Maltese cross
  • Salvia
  • Speedwell (Veronica)

Annual Flowers

Annuals are stunning in their own right, and their benefit is that they are easy to mix and match. If you don’t like how they look one season, just try again with different annuals next year! Some of the best annuals for containers include:

  • Begonia
  • Browallia
  • Coleus
  • Coreopsis
  • Dusty miller
  • Fuchsia
  • Lobelia
  • Marigold
  • Morning glory
  • Nasturtiums
  • Pansies
  • Petunias
  • Portulaca
  • Snapdragon
  • Statice
  • Sweet alyssum
  • Sweet pea

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Photo: The flowers and plants in the flower container shown above!

Container Gardening Tips

  • Be sure that any container you use has drainage holes.
  • Avoid small containers. They often can’t store enough water to get through hot days, so will need constant care. Large pots also insulate roots better.
  • Clay pots are usually more attractive than plastic ones, but plastic pots retain moisture better. Consider a plastic pot inside a larger clay pot to get the best of both worlds!
  • New, lightweight materials, such as fiberglass, plastic, or foam composites, make moving pots easier.
  • Use soil-free potting mix; not only is it light, but the fluffy blend provides roots with more oxygen and nutrients.

How to Plant in Containers

  • To plant, place the container where you want your flower to grow. Be sure it receives enough sun.
  • Add a one-inch layer of fine gravel, horticultural charcoal, or clay pot shards to the bottom of the container so that water doesn’t collect.
  • Fill the container 2/3 full with soil-free potting mix.
  • With your hands, make a hole in the potting mix about the diameter of the pot.
  • Knock the flower out of its pot, spread its roots slightly, and place it in the hole.
  • Add more potting mix to bring the level up to 2 inches below the container top.
  • Water gently, press the mix to reduce air pockets, add more mix if necessary, than water again.
  • Feed container plants at least twice a month with liquid fertilizer, following the instructions on the label.
  • Keep the planting medium moist. The container plant is totally at your mercy for water.
  • As winter approaches in cold climates, you’ll need to store the container flowers inside.

See our library of Growing Guides for more information on growing and caring for the most common garden flowers.

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