Make a Patriotic Container Garden

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Thomas Jefferson called gardeners “the most valuable citizens…tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bonds.” He was just one of the many founding fathers, George Washington and John Adams included, who believed that gardening and patriotism went hand in hand. So what better way to celebrate Independence Day than with one or more colorful containers of red, white, and blue flowers to adorn your porch, deck, or poolside?

The good news is, this is one DIY project that couldn’t be easier. You’ll need one or more 12-14 inch pots suitable for outdoors and enough high-quality potting soil to fill your pots three-quarters of the way to the top. As with any sort of mixed flower container, you’ll want to plant in three layers: a showy taller center, a ring of shorter filler flowers, and an outer circle of plants that spill color over the pot’s edge. Below are suggestions for all three types of container plants in red, white, and blue.

The showy center:

Geranium, Salvia, Canna in containers

For your red or white centerpiece, you can’t beat the zonal geranium. They grow 10-18 inches tall and if you deadhead them regularly, they’ll bloom continuously until frost. Pair these with annual blue salvia, or let the salvia’s spiky flowers, which can grow 8-24 inches, take center stage on their own. Tropical sage, a different species of Salvia, is a good option also with a height of 8-18 inches. If you’re really looking for a showstopper, try canna. They’re available in bright red and in heights from 2-6 feet.

The filler:

Vinca, Cineraria, Petunia in containers

Underneath your soaring center display, consider a bed of vinca, which comes in shades of red and white. The dwarf cineraria, with its daisy-like flowers in blue and white, is another great choice. And many container gardeners swear by delicate sweet alyssum, which carries its clumps of flowers close to the soil. The flowers have a light, sweet fragrance and are available in white. Petunias are always a reliable choice for continuous color and can be found in all three colors; red, white and blue. Look for bi-colored petunias to add a fun twist to your color scheme.

The trailing edge:

Ivy geranium, Lobelia, Bacopa

When looking for the perfect plant to spill flowers over the edge of your patriotic container, try the ivy geranium. It’s available in red or white and is as hardy as its cousin, the zonal geranium. Another excellent choice is trailing lobelia, which comes in blue and white. Don’t let its profusion of dainty flowers fool you–the trailing lobelia is one of the hardiest container plants available. If you’ve never tried bacopa before, this is the perfect project for it. The cascade of lush foliage with its tiny white flowers will add the perfect starry sparkle to your container.

All of these suggested plants are easy-to-grow annuals that do well in sun to part-shade. Create your own unique container design by mixing and matching the colors of the layers or by using solid colors in multiple planters. How ever you decide to put together your display, you’re sure to end up with a stunning Independence Day tribute that lasts all summer long.

Sweet alyssum, Salvia


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