Using some of your garden perennials for containers is a great way to save money. Also dividing perennials in a garden bed keeps them happy and healthy. And, if you purchase a few new perennials for a container you could always move them into the garden at the end of the season.
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.
Perennial Choices for Container Planting
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 a 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 a ground cover that looks beautiful trailing out of pots. This one is Lamium 'Orchid Frost,' and works great in a shady spot. Some people find lamium to be invasive, although I haven't had that problem. However, using them in pots will certainly keep them from taking over a flower bed.
Preparing Container Gardens for Winter
In late fall or early winter, move the pots close to the house, a shed, or garage, for extra protection during the winter.
You could also move them into the garden, just make sure that it's early enough in the fall so that they have some time to adjust to their new surroundings.
Creating Containers with New Perennials
You can also create a pretty fall planter with a mix of annuals and perennials like the one shown above. In this case, I decided to take some of the perennials at the end of the fall season and plant them in the garden.
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 list the plant's hardiness zone.
Here are a 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 overcrowding, 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 fewer annuals to buy. The rest you can relocate or give away to friends and family.