If there's one thing that will kill a plant faster than anything, it's poor drainage. Water is critical to plant survival, but that water also has to have a way out of your pot or else your plant will become waterlogged and die of root rot. So not only do you need to have proper potting mix as well as drainage holes in your pot, but you also have to make sure the drainage holes are not blocked when water is trying to make its way out. The best way to do this is to elevate your pots. I use pot feet. I have a lot of them because I have so many containers. They get my pots up off of the deck's surface and let the water run through. I usually use three feet on my round pots; the few big square pots that I have require four.
Bay leaves on pot feet
No matter what you use to raise your containers off of the surface they're on, don't skip this step. You could do everything right and because you neglect to do this, end up with a sad ending to what was a promising start.
I love climbing plants--their rambling and chaotic nature. But most climbers aren't well suited for container gardening because they need a lot of vertical space. Introducing Clematis 'Parisienne'--not your normal clematis. Many clematis climb up to 8 feet, sometimes taller. My trellises aren't tall enough to accommodate that. But Parisienne is short and compact, with a maximum height of 4 feet. I have it climbing on an obelisk-type trellis and it looks terrific. It just started to bloom and its purple blooms are
This clematis is hardy to zone 4 and blooms from May to June, with a second burst of bloom from August to September. I have it in a pretty large pot (about 22" in diameter) and have some low growing plants around it (see last week's post on Erodium). It likes a sunny location and good drainage. I'll have to study up on the pruning guidelines to ensure I get good growth next year.
Give climbers a try, especially if you're really short on space. If you can't plant out, then plant up.
Let's reverse the order. First: The "Something New." This is called Erodium 'Sweetheart." Erodium is also commonly known as Heron's Bill. There are a lot of reasons why it's so great and you should have it. It blooms late spring to fall. Already I'm sold. It thrives in full to partial sun and it's hardy to zone 6, so in most places, it's going to come back. Yay! The blooms are tiny and pretty, and the plant is just the right size to squeeze into those nooks, edges, and corners of a container where not much else will fit.
Now for the "Something Old." You've seen this here before but it keeps getting better every season. This rose is called "Quietness" and I bought it a couple of years ago online from the Antique Rose Emporium. It bloomed like crazy this spring and the fragrance was amazing. Had I known it would climb so well, I would have planted it with a trellis. Instead, I've had to use stakes after the fact. It's probably about 5 feet tall now and is branching all over the place. I love it. You will too.
Here's an assortment that I bought a couple of weeks ago--most of which I ended up putting in the same container. When creating a mixed planting, that is, a combination of plants that will all go in one pot, I choose plants that have similar requirements when it comes to light and water. All of the plants here need full sun and about the same amount of moisture. Also, all of these plants are annuals, meaning that they will die once it gets permanently cold. You can mix perennial and annual plants, but the thing is you have to pull the annuals out when they die and then replace them the following season. Also, if your pot isn't big enough, the perennial eventually grows large enough that there won't be any more room for annuals after a couple of years.
So here's what's in the picture: Chives, Italian Parsley, Basil, Eucalyptus, Calibrachoa (Double Deep Yellow and Dreamsicle), and Ivy Geranium (Pink Variegated and Burgundy Bicolor). It's fine to mix flowers and herbs--I do it all of the time because we use a ton of herbs for cooking so one pot with herbs isn't enough. I have them sprinkled among all of my mixed plantings.