Using perennials for containers is a great way to save money and keep the plants in the ground happy and healthy.
Outside of pruning and tool maintenance, one of the first things I do in the spring is look at dividing my perennials. Then as the weather warms up I buy tons of annuals for all of my planters.
However, a couple of years ago I got really busy and didn't have time to buy all the annuals that I usually do.
In addition, I had more than enough perennials which really needed to be divided, and not a lot of places for them to go. So, I ended up using them in some of my containers and I'm so glad I did.
Above is a photo of some of my mini hosta in early spring. They had no trouble growing after a long winter.
This is the same hosta in bloom during the summer. See how it grew well into the sidewalk. I kind of like this look, but it goes to show you that taking a few divisions for pots is not big deal. There's plenty to go around.
Here's a photo of growth at the beginning of the season. The plant in the back is a penstemon, and the front is the mini lime green hosta. This is a great time to divide most perennials whether they are in the ground or in pots. This is especially true for hosta, because you can easily see where to make a cutting. Once they fill in it becomes a little harder to separate the plant.
Mix in a few annuals if you want. This torenia added a touch of color to the penstemon and hosta. Pay no attention to that bit of wayward clover. 🙂
If you have any Geranium sanguineum in your garden, they you probably have many volunteers as it spreads readily. Why not move some of them to containers?
Lamium is another cold hardy perennial.
It's ground cover that looks beautiful trailing out of pots. This one is 'Orchid Frost,' and works great in a shady spot.
In late fall or early winter, move the pots close to the house, a shed, or garage, for extra protection during the winter.
If you're not using perennials from your own garden make sure they will thrive in your area. You can refer to the USDA zone guide to determine your zone before you buy a new plant. Most plant labels the plant's hardiness zone.
Here are few suggestions that work in my Zone 6a garden.
Perennials for Shade
- hardy geranium
Perennials for Sun
- echinacea (short varieties)
Ground Covers - Great for Trailing
- golden creeping jenny
The spring is a great time to divide perennials. This helps avoid disease from over crowding, and ensures bigger and more productive blooms, so why not take advantage and consider using perennials for containers? It will help you save money, because you will have less annuals to buy. The rest you can relocate or give away to friends and family.