This picture gallery is all about great container plants and flowers. Browse for ideas, inspiration and information on container plants.
Calendula Officinalis commonly known as calendula or pot marigold is a great container plant. Though one might think the name pot marigold comes from how well they grow in pots, it actually comes from calendula's historical use in cooking. Calendula has also been called "poor man's saffron," because it can be used not only to flavor food, but to color food as well.
Calendula is easy to grow from seed and will thrive in sun to part shade. If you live in a hot climate, shade in the heat of the day is recommended.
Calendula flowers are edible, beautiful and are popular in herbal remedies and teas. They are also thought to repel insects, though calendulas are somewhat prone to aphid infestations.
Calendula is a great plant to grow with kids because of it's ease and the success rate when starting from seed.
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Daffodil bouquets don't last long, but they are heaven while they do.
Daffodils are a gorgeous spring flower. There are several ways to get container gardens full of daffodil flowers. The easiest way is to buy bulbs in the nursery or supermarket that are already growing in simple plastic pots. Look for plants that have lots of buds, but haven't gone into full bloom yet. You can then either take these, pot and all, and put them into a larger container - almost any basket will look great. Try using Spanish moss as a topdressing to hide the pots and give your container a finished look.
You can also take the growing bulbs out of their pots and plant them in any planter with good drainage to which you have added potting soil. Try mixing daffodils with hyacinths, grape hyacinths and using oxalis or wheat grass to fill in the spaces.
The only problem with using bulbs that have already been sprouted for you, is that the daffodils you usually find already potted, are usually pretty standard varieties. There are 25,000 registered daffodil cultivars and the range of colors, size and flower varieties is staggering. Typically, the only way to get the more unusual daffodils is to buy bulbs and plant them yourself.
If you choose to start with bulbs, you will have to cool them. In order to flower, daffodil bulbs need to be kept at a low temperature, roughly 40 to 45 °F, for a period of 13 to 16 weeks. You can achieve this by putting your bulbs in a refrigerator, or if you live in a cold climate, you can pot up your bulbs in containers and leave them either outside, or in an unheated garage or basement that doesn't get below freezing.
Once your daffodils have cooled for a sufficient amount of time, water them and put them in full sun and wait for them to bloom. Enjoy your pots of daffodil flowers, or cut some for a beautiful and fragrant bouquet. Once cut, daffodils don't last long, but they can really light up a room while they do.Continue to 2 of 47 below.
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Container Gardening Respite
Just looking at this scene at the Boston Flower Show made me relax. The 2010 show was jam packed with people and beautiful, fragrant spring plants. The orchids were also astonishing and there were lots of them.
This garden scene made me long for a lazy afternoon.Continue to 3 of 47 below.
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Spring Container Garden with Grape Hyacinths
Grape hyacinths, also called Muscari (which interestingly means bulb in Turkish), are not at all related to the larger hyacinths, they're actually in the lily family. They make a wonderful early spring container garden plant. They have a sweet, subtle scent and long-lasting, beautiful blue-purple flowers that look like inverted bunches of grapes.
Grape hyacinths like full to partial sun and rich, well-drained soil. You can force grape hyacinths bulbs to grow after cooling them for 8-10 weeks and then planting them in baskets, boxes, or pots.
You can also buy blooming grape hyacinths in the spring and re-pot them in a wooden box or other small container.
Try surrounding your grape hyacinths with grass. You can also make a mixed container by combining spring blooming flowers like daffodils, tulips and/or large hyacinths.Continue to 4 of 47 below.
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Great Container Garden Plant - Clematis
Clematis are great container garden plants. They are perennials and many are incredibly hardy. This clematis, 'H.M. Young,' is particularly good in containers because it only grows 7-9 feet and can be trained to wrap around a trellis.
Clematis likes full sun to partial shade, but likes it's roots to stay cool and shaded. This is easily accomplished in a container, by planting something low and drapey around the base of your clematis.Continue to 5 of 47 below.
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Oxalis or Shamrock is a Great Container Garden Plant
Oxalis, also known as shamrock is a great container plant. Oxalis prefers shade to part shade and comes in several beautiful colors, from dark wine to green to a coppery color. This cheerful plant is hard to kill and drought tolerant. It's flowers are small but prolific.
Oxalis prefers to be on the dry side, so let the soil dry out a bit between waterings. If it starts to get leggy or straggly during the growing season, cut it back and it should grow bushy again.
Oxalis is a wonderful plant that can fill out a combination pot while adding color and texture.Continue to 6 of 47 below.
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Dahlias Make Great Container Plants
'Cafe Au Lait,' dahlias are not called "dinner plate" dahlias for nothing. The blooms are enormous. They are also one of the most luxurious flowers I have ever seen. I like them best just when the blossoms are unfurling and the colors go from cream to salmon to pink. Once fully in bloom, they can be more of a uniform creamy color.
Cafe Au Lait, dahlias are also tall - from 36-48 inches. Because the flowers are huge and heavy, they can flop over, so staking is recommended. Also a protected area out of the wind will keep these flowers looking their best.
Plant dahlia tubers after all danger of frost, or do what I do and drag them in and out of your garage daily, until it warms up. Dahlias prefer a sunny spot and well drained, and fertilized soil. They are fairly short rooted, so you don't need to plant them in a very deep pot. Keep soil moist but not wet.
Feed your dahlias diluted fertilizer every other week, through the middle of August.
If you live in anything colder than a zone 8, dahlias can be a tricky to over-winter. They don’t like to be too hot or too cold, to wet or too dry. There is lots of advice on how to store dahlias for the winter. What is agreed on is that after a few frosts, you should dig up your dahlias, cut off the stems, remove as much soil as possible from the tubers before storing them. It is also widely agreed that they like to spend their winters in a dry, but not too dry, area that is between 40-50°F, so an unheated basement or garage can work - if it doesn't freeze.
Suggestions on storing dahlia tubers range from packing them in peat moss to building a temperature-controlled box to wrapping them in plastic wrap.
For more info on dahlias The American Dahlia Society is a great web site to check out.Continue to 7 of 47 below.
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Great Container Plant - Tuberous Begonia
I have gone bonkers over tuberous begonias in my container gardens. I used to consider them kind of boring, but now I have completely lost my heart to them. Begonias can look great in hanging baskets as well as in mixed containers. The only tricky thing about them design wise, is that they are pretty distinct looking, so I like letting them be the main feature in a container garden design. I often put them on their own in hanging baskets, because they are so gorgeous.
For growing tuberous begonias successfully:
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- Use, good, fast draining potting soil
- Keep begonias in indirect light - not direct sun, but not full shade
- Begonias like moderate temperatures, with not too much humidity (though there are some begonias that tolerate heat and humidity better than others, including this one)
- Start tubers inside, in small pots, to get a start on the growing season. Once leaves are full and roots have filled small pot, transplant to larger pot
- Feed weekly during growing season using a diluted, liquid fertilizer
- Plant one tuber per 7-12" pot
- For huge, luscious blooms, pinch off the smaller outer flowers
- Make sure to keep begonias hydrated - do not let soil fully dry out. Soil should be kept moist at all times but not wet.
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I love growing gladiolas in container gardens. I tend to pack the bulbs pretty tightly in the pot and use good well drained soil. Gladiolas like full sun and take awhile to bloom. I usually cut the stalks when the first few blossoms have opened to bring them inside for cut flowers. They last well in a vase and I'm fascinated by watching the blossoms open one after the other.
You can buy bulbs in your local nursery or from a mail order specialty house. These beauties came from Brent and Becky's Bulbs.Continue to 9 of 47 below.
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Garden Pot Color Riot
I took this picture at Allen, Sterling and Lothrup, a local nursery. Their pots are spectacular, and the plantings are often unusual, imaginative, and use great color combinations. I love this picture with it's riot of color. It shows how sometimes contrasting, bright colors can be fun and really pack a visual punch.Continue to 10 of 47 below.
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Fall In Maine
This is a photograph of a reflection of a birch tree that I took while walking my dog.Continue to 11 of 47 below.
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Elephant Ears Make Great Container Plants
Elephant ears can be heart-stoppingly beautiful when used in container gardens. Their huge leaves have the kind of dignity and stature that is true of their namesake - elephants. These plants love heat, sunshine and high humidity and moisture. They can be used for water gardens or at the edge of ponds.
Elephant ear plants are grown from tuberous bulbs. Hardy only in zones 8-11, you can still grow them in pots in colder zones. Start them inside in the spring and then in the fall dig up your bulbs, clean them off and store them somewhere cool and dark place.
Make sure to plant these giants in a large heavy pot. In the wind, the leaves can act like a sail and you don't want your plant tipping over, or worse yet, sailing off.
Some cultivars of elephant ears can be used in water gardens, but all are heavy feeders so need serious fertilization during the growing season.
There are some caveats you should know about before planting elephant ear. First of all, if eaten raw, these plants can be fatal. Also, skin contact with the sap of elephant ear can irritate skin and cause rashes. Elephant ear is considered an invasive in certain parts of the country.
For another picture of elephant earsContinue to 12 of 47 below.
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Pumpkin Planter with Stonecrop
Making a pumpkin into a planter, or Jack-O-Plantern, if you will, couldn't be easier. To make a pumpkin into a fall container garden, follow these easy steps. DIY Pumpkin PlanterContinue to 13 of 47 below.
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Great Container Garden Plant - Heuchera
Heucheras form wonderfully symmetrical large mounds, without any pruning or special attention. Many heucheras have great two-toned leaves showing distinctive veins in contrasting colors.
Heucheras are perennials in zones 4-9 and are hardy to -25°F, making them a superb choice for fall planters.
Most heucheras will tolerate full sun to complete shade, though some of the colors will be more vibrant in one or the other (check plant tag for information on specific cultivar).
Heucheras are considered deer resistant and drought tolerant. They require normal watering (damp soil but not wet). They bloom with tiny flowers on long spike, early in the spring. It is recommended to remove flower stems once the plant has finished blooming.
Great attractors to birds, heucheras mix well with contrasting foliage plants, or flowering annuals and look great in the centers of hanging baskets.
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- Perennial in zones 4-9
- Blooms in early spring
- Hardy to -25°F
- Exposure is full sun to shade
- Easy to care for
- Mounding, 8-16"
- Cutting off spent flower stalks is suggested
- Drought tolerant
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Water Garden with Alligator Flag and Victoria Water Lilies
Red-stemmed thalia, also known as alligator flag and fire flag is a water garden plant that knocks my socks off. It is tall and regal while showing some great style with its bright red stems. Perfect for large water gardens, alligator flag grows up to 6-8 feet tall.
Alligator flag can be grown in a large container, either sunk into the mud or in a container that has been submerged up to 24" inches in water.
Produces purple flowers in July and August.
Alligator flag prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial shade, though the colors won't be as vibrant.Continue to 15 of 47 below.
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Begonia, 'On Top Sunset'
Great container plant for shade.
I am a recent convert to tuberous begonias and like most recent converts, I have become somewhat obsessed. I find tuberous begonias kind of glamorous in an old-fashioned way.
The flowers of tuberous begonias just knock me out - they are papery and delicate and come in the most outrageous colors. Begonias are exceedingly easy to grow and flower like crazy.
'On Top Sunset' is a great choice for hanging baskets with its large flowers and relatively short stature (8-12"). It is heat tolerant and flowers from mid to late summer.
It will be happy in partial sun to full shade, and is hardy to 25°F.
Don't let your begonias sit in soggy soil. They need moist but not wet conditions.
Feed your tuberous begonias regularly and they should thrive and bloom throughout the summer.Continue to 17 of 47 below.
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Container Vegetable Garden with Nasturtium and Rainbow Chard
I love container garden plants that are edible as well as beautiful. Both rainbow chard and nasturtiums qualify. Both the leaves and flowers of nasturtiums are edible and add a spicy flavor to salads. Rainbow chard can be eaten raw when the leaves are very young and small or bigger leaves can be cooked like spinach - great when sautéed with a little oil, garlic and lemon. Both nasturtiums and rainbow chard like full sun, but can tolerate partial shade. Chard doesn't like it too hot, so if you live somewhere hot, midday shade is advisable.Continue to 18 of 47 below.
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Great Container Gardening Plant - Passion Flower
I love passion flowers (Passiflora incarnata). The blossoms are in equal measure, grand and weird – kind of like a clematis from Mars. The flowers only last for about a day, but they are spectacular.
Legend has it that the passion flower was named by early missionaries because it reminded them of the crown of thorns Jesus wore (though I have also read more complex versions of how the passion flower got its name).
Passion flower, is also known as maypop because in parts of the Southeastern United States, the plants seem to 'pop' up in May. In some places passion flowers are considered an invasive weed and can be found crawling over the countryside.
The fruit of the passion flower is edible and parts of the plant are used as medicinal herbs to treat high blood pressure, anxiety and insomnia. However there appear to be parts of the plant that are potentially poisonous.
Passion flowers attract bees and hummingbirds. They are fast climbers and look great on trellises or climbing up fences. They require a fairly large pot filled with fast draining soil. They prefer moist soil, but don't like to be over-watered. Passion flowers need regular feeding during the growing season and prefer partial shade, though in most areas, will tolerate full sun.
Passion flowers combine beautifully with many other plants and the types of pots you can plant them in is endless - just make sure it's large enough and has great drainage. Here's a passion flower in a pot, with monkey flower flowering maple.
It is possible to overwinter passion flowers indoors, but not easy.
You can see a video of a passion flower, taken over the course of an afternoon, unfurling into a fantastic blossom. Talk about otherworldly.Continue to 19 of 47 below.
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Great Container Plant For Shade - Fuchsia, 'Dark Eyes'
There is no doubt that fuchsias are a fabulous hanging basket staple. They are easy to grow and most will reward you with extravagant blooms all summer if you respect their slightly fussy requirements. For a full plant profile on fuchsias.Continue to 20 of 47 below.
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Giant Dinner Plate Dahlia, 'Bonaventura'
Dinner plate dahlias can be stunning. They are easy to grow, but make sure you stake them because the weight of the blossom can be quite heavy and can easily break or bend the flower stalk.
Dahlias love sun and well-drained, high quality potting soil. Keep soil moist, but not wet, feed regularly with a diluted liquid fertilizer. I like organic fish emulsion.
Dahlias make great cut flowers and the giant dinner plate dahlias can look stunning in a vase on their own or in bunches.Continue to 22 of 47 below.
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Double Cosmos, 'Rose Bon Bon'
I love cosmos. I love their flowers in bouquets and their fern-like, delicate leaves.
Because many varieties are very tall, cosmos are not that common in containers, but they can be gorgeous. I have grown some of the larger varieties in small bags and pots, which I've then set into larger containers. This technique has two advantages. First, having the tall plants sit down in a larger pot can help keep the plants looking well proportioned with the pot. The second advantage is that the larger pot can help keep the tall plants from flopping over, which cosmos have a tendency to do.
Cosmos love full sun and are easy to plant from seed. Mature cosmos will tolerate heat and some drought, but will flower more prolifically if kept well watered.
To buy Double Cosmos, 'Rose Bon Bon,' try Renee's Garden.
Cosmos do come in shorter varieties too that also look great in container gardens.Continue to 23 of 47 below.
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Great Water Garden Plant - Water Lily
Water lilies make great plants for water gardens.
Water lilies are great water garden plants. You don't need a big pond to grow water lilies. They can grow and be gorgeous in a big container, either on their own, or planted with other water garden plants. Water lilies love sun, so you will need at least four to six hours of sun a day. Water lilies will grow in almost any zone and some are even hardy in the coldest. There are two types of water lilies, tropical and hardy, and as you might guess, the hardy are easier to grow. To make a water lily container garden, you'll need:
- A large container that will hold water. At least 36 by 18 inches is a good size to start with, but the sky is the limit.
- A smaller container also without a hole. This will be the pot that will hold soil and your water lily. Black plastic or fabric pots designed specifically for water gardens work well, and will become almost invisible once submerged. A 10 by 6 inch pot will work well.
- Heavy soil . You'll need enough heavy garden soil to fill your smaller pot or pots. You can use garden loam or you can also buy a specially formulated, pre-mixed aquatic plant soil. Do not use regular potting soil.
- Aquatic fertilizer - You'll need two kinds of aquatic fertilizer, granular or pellets, to mix in with your soil, and a liquid aquatic plant food to use weekly or every other week.
- Pea or aquarium gravel for top dressing your small container. This will help keep the soil in your pot.
- Water lily rhizome Water lilies come in a huge array of sizes and colors, from white, to orange, purple and shocking pink. They also come in wide, medium or small spreading varieties. While you can grow wide spreading varieties, the degree of difficulty increases.
Some small spreading water lilies:
- Perry's Baby Red Waterlily
- Rose Laydekeri Waterlily
- Helvola Waterlily
- Berit Strawn Waterlily
To plant your water lily, you want to fill your small pot about 3/4 full of heavy soil. Wet it and tamp it down firmly. Lay your water lily tuber at a 45° angle with the growing tip towards the center of the pot and placed so it will be above the top of your soil when the pot is full.
Next fill your pot with soil, and then lay about an inch of pea gravel on top of the soil, making sure to keep the water lily growing tip free from soil or gravel.
Water your small pot well and slowly submerge it in the larger container, filled with water. For the first few weeks, the tip of the water lily should be submerged a few inches. After that the ideal growing depth is 12-18 inches.Continue to 25 of 47 below.
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Echeveria Pulvinata, 'Ruby'
Echeveria pulvinata is also known as plush plant, Mexican echeveria, velvet echeveria or chenille plant. This perennial succulent blooms summer to fall and is hardy between zones 8-11.
Like most echeverias, it makes a great container garden plant. Echeveria pulvinata likes full sun to part shade. Echeverias are used to poor soil, so fertilizer isn't necessary. Be cautious not to over-water and make sure to let the soil dry out between waterings, and use a well-draining potting soil.
In winter only give echeverias enough water to keep the leaves from shriveling. If you give it too much water, the roots will rot.
Echeveria pulvinata can be easily propagated by leaf or stem cuttings.Continue to 26 of 47 below.
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Juice Box Container Garden
To make this juice box container garden:
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- Wash out your juice box thoroughly.
- Using a scissors, poke or cut several holes in the bottom of your juice box.
- Cover the bottom of juice box with a piece of paper towel or a coffee filter, cut to size. This is so the soil stays in and they holes can let water out.
- Fill the juice box with about an inch of potting soil.
- Stuff it full of pansies, violas, herbs or edible flowers.
- Fill in any holes between your plants with potting soil and firm gently.
- Water generously and use a diluted liquid fertilizer ever other week.
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Growing Sunflowers in Container Gardens
It's easy and fun to grow sunflowers in container gardens, but not surprisingly they need lots of sun. They also like soil with good drainage and to be kept moist but not wet. They are very easy to grow from seed, but critters LOVE the seeds so make sure to protect them. Also, keep sunflowers protected from the wind.
Growing a sunflower container garden is a great project to do with kids.
A good alternative for growing sunflowers in containers is to plant dwarf sunflower varieties:
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- Sunflower 'Elf' - 4 in blooms on 16 inch plant
- Sunflower 'Sunny Smile' - 5 inch blooms on a 12-15 inch plant
- Sunflower 'Choco Sun' - Less than 12 inches with multiple blooms per plant
- Sunflower 'Sundance Kid' - 2 feet tall plants that have six or more 5 inch blooms per plant
- Sunflower 'Double Dandy' - Double flowering, red dwarf sunflowers
- Sunflower 'Sunspot' - 10 inch blooms on a 2.5 foot plant
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Flowering Dogwood at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens
The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, in Boothbay, Maine, are spectacular. This dogwood can be found in the rhododendron garden which is well worth the walk. It blooms in late spring.Continue to 35 of 47 below.
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Strawberry Planter with Hens and Chicks
Strawberry planters make great containers for more than just strawberries. I found this strawberry planter at a yard sale. It has a hole in the back, but to me it just made the drainage better.
This is a good example of how the color of a pot can bring out the color of a plant. In this case the red of the pot highlights the red in the center of hens and chicks.
Here's a strawberry planter with coleus and ivy.
For more on hens and chicks:Continue to 36 of 47 below.
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Lettuce Can Be Decorative
Edibles are in and beautiful too. This "Elegance Greens Mix," from Johnny's Seeds is easy to grow, beautiful and delicious. Throw in some edible flowers, like nasturtiums, and you've got a tasty and gorgeous vegetable container garden.Continue to 38 of 47 below.
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Lady Slipper, Not a Container Garden Plant
Lady slippers are one of the few plants that don't thrive in container gardens. They are fragile, incredibly particular about light, soil acidity and moisture. They don't like to be transplanted and in some places are endangered, so please don't put them in container gardens. You can buy them, but they cost anywhere from $35-$150 per plant. However, a single plant can live more than 20 years.Continue to 39 of 47 below.
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Oriental Lily, 'Star Gazer'
Oriental lilies make great container plants. I grow them in big baskets. I love their smell as much as their looks.Continue to 40 of 47 below.
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Calibrachoa is a Great Fall Container Plant
I took this picture on November 5. Even after several frosts and a snow this calibrachoa, also known as million bells, looked great. That's why it gets my vote for a fabululous fall plant.Continue to 41 of 47 below.
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Growing Potatoes in Containers
Growing potatoes in containers is easy and fun. The plants grow so quickly, you can almost see it and. To grow potatoes in containers all you need is a large container, lots of sun, consistent moisture, great soil and some plant food and seed potatoes.
I grow my potatoes in fabric containers called Smart Pots, but you can grow them in almost any large container.
Here are step by step instructions for growing potatoes in containers.Continue to 43 of 47 below.
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Elephant ear makes a great container plant. An enormous plant, elephant ear can make a fantastic visual statement. Many cultivars will work in water gardens or at the edge of ponds.
It's a particularly good idea to keep these plants containerized because they can be invasive in many areas. They are also poisonous if eaten raw and their sap can cause skin rashes and irritations.Continue to 45 of 47 below.
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Commonly called cineraria, Senetti® Pericallis, is a great container plant for spring blooms. 'Secrets of Senetti,' is a brand name of new series of Pericallis hybrids. These striking plants are available in four colors, magenta, magenta bicolor, blue and blue bicolor. Senetti® Pericallis love cool wet weather which makes them perfect for early spring planting and prolific early blooms. They will put up with light frosts and will survive temperatures as low as 32°F. Senetti® Pericallis will typically bloom from early winter into spring providing a great early show of color.
- Light - Part shade
- Water - Requires consistently moist soil. Do not let soil dry out.
- Size - This is a mounding plant with an average size is 12"-24" in both height and width
- Fertilizer - Like most flowering annuals, Senetti® Pericallis requires regular feeding.