The Q&A Archives: Planter boxes

Question: We are switching from in-ground planting to above ground planter boxes which will utilize drip system watering. There are three areas, each with varying degrees of sun. First is 3 hours of morning sun...second, filtered shade...third, 4 to 5 hours of afternoon sun, which can be quite hot at times when our heat gets up to 90 to 100 degrees. We want lots of color and would like your comments as to best types of annuals to use in each area. We have three 19

Answer: Shade may differ in degree from ?light shade? where plants receive three or four hours of morning sun; to ?partial shade? where plants receive filtered but little or no direct sun; to dense shade where plants may be located under a canopy of trees, receiving no direct sunlight and low indirect light. Few annuals do well in dense shade.

Here are a few of my favorite annuals for shade:

Begonias (Latin: Begonia semperflorens-cultorum). Begonias have waxy looking leaves, which can be either green or a reddish brown color. The flower color can be white, pink or red. Begonias will bloom from last spring through summer. The average height of a begonia is 6 to 12 inches. You can find begonias which thrive in sun, but make sure you plant the correct kind for your area.

Browallia (Latin: Browallia americana). Lesser known, browallias are great for hanging baskets or anywhere you want a spread of flowers. The colors are either blue or white and bloom profusely.

Coleus (Latin: Coleus hybridus). Coleus plants are not planted for their flowers, but for the wonderful foliage! The leaf color can range from red, purple, orange, yellow and green. Often variegated. They will grow to an average height of 24 inches and are very easy to grow. For best results, pinch back the tips of the flowers when they are young, as this will encourage fuller, bushy growth.

Impatiens (Latin: Impatiens wallerana). Impatiens are hugely popular. Since this annual comes in a wide variety of colors, it can fit in almost anywhere. Some of the colors available include white, purple, red, pink and orange. They are very easy to grow and range from eight inches to a taller thrity inch variety. The foliage is attractive with small green leaves. Impatiens are also called 'busy lizzies' due to their prolific flower production all season long.

Forget-Me-Not (Latin: Myosotis sylvatica). These flowers produce plenty of delicate blue flowers during the spring time. They grow six to twelve inches tall and spread out - so you can use these to fill in bare spots. Planted along with spring time bulbs such as tulips or daffodils, forget-me-nots can give your garden a classic look.

Lobelia (Latin: Lobelia). Looking for a blue flower? Lobelia will fit the bill! There are two types - trailing and edging. The trailing lobelias are perfect for containers and hanging baskets. The edgers are great for a border. Lobelias bloom throughout the summer months with lots of tiny flowers. They grow about 6 inches tall and may reseed themselves in milder climates.

Flowering tobacco (Latin: Nicotiana). Nicotiana is related to smoking tobacco and popular in old fashioned gardens. They come in a wide variety of sizes, from compact twelve inch to four feet tall. Some varieties are wonderfully fragrant, such as 'sylvestris' and 'Fragrant Cloud'. Typical flower colors are red or white. Use the shorter variety in the middle or front of the flower bed, or in containers. Use the tall variety to add height in the back of a border. The blooms with some varieties will close in the afternoon and reopen in the evening

For part-shade to full sun, try these annuals:
Blue Daze (Evolvulus glomerata)
Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)
Cockscomb (Celosia argentea)
Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit)
Dahlia (Dahlia species and hybrids)
Fan Flower (Scaevola aemula)
Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana species)
Four o?clock (Mirabilis jalapa)
Hyacinth Bean Vine (Dolichos lablab)
Joseph?s Coat (Amaranthustricolor)
Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha)
Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia)
Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)
Moon Vine (Ipomoea alba)
Morning Glory (Ipomoea species)
Salvia (Salvia species)
Silk Flower (Abelmoschus manihot)
Starflower (Pentas lanceolata)
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

And, for fragrance, grow these annuals in full sun:
Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
Dianthus (Dianthus species)
Four o?clock (Mirabalis jalapa)
Heliotrope (Heliotropum arboresccens)
Moonflower (Ipomoea alba)
Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana species)
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)
Petunia (Petunia species)
Stocks (Matthiola incana)
Sweet Peas (Lathyrus odoratus)
Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus)
Wallflower (Erysimum species)
Sweet Sultan (Centaurea moschata)

Best wishes with your container garden!

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