The Q&A Archives: welcome spring!

Question: i love working out in my yard but, we don't have any shade, I don't want to replant the whole yard every year, just my planters and baskets, can you help me decide what to plant?

Answer: Sun-loving plants which adapt to container growing include:
Achillea millefolium (common yarrow). Yarrow blooms from mid- to late summer. Common yarrow grows 2 to 3 feet tall, while fernleaf yarrow may grow to 4 feet. Both are easily grown in sunny locations. Colors range from white to pink to red in common yarrow; fernleaf yarrows are yellow or gold. Both dry well. Several other species and hybrids are also available.

Alyssum - Aurinia saxatile (gold alyssum). Gold alyssum is frequently used in rock gardens and for edging. In early spring it blooms, producing a dense mat of yellow flowers 9 to 12 inches high. Full sun and excellent drainage are essential.

Anemone - Anemone x hybrida (Japanese anemone). Unlike the tuberous, spring-flowering anemones, Japanese anemone flowers later on tall, wiry stems to 3 feet in height. Single and semi-double flowers range from white to deep pink. Moist, rich soils are best. Other species are also available.

Artemisia - Artemisia schmidtiana ?Silver Mound? (silver mound artemisia)
A. ludoviciana ?Silver King? (silver king artemisia). These two varieties are perhaps the best known of the artemisias, most of which are grown for their silvery gray foliage. ?Silver Mound? is dwarf and compact, about 1 foot in height; ?Silver King? may grow 2 to 3? feet tall.

Baptisia - Baptisia australis (blue indigo) A member of the pea family, baptisia is adapted to poorer, low-fertility soils. A single clump spreads about 3 feet and grows 4 to 6 feet tall. It is a good substitute for lupine in the South.

Carnation - Dianthus caryophyllus (hardy garden carnation) This is the same species as the florist?s carnation. Garden varieties are selected for dwarf compact habits; most of them grow to a height of about 12 inches. Many colors are available. Carnation is very fragrant and an excellent garden cut flower.

Caryopteris - Caryopteris clandonensis This plant makes a 4-foot mound of light blue flowers late July through September. Excellent for cut flowers or for attracting butterflies. The semi-woody plant may die back to the base in cold winters. Caryopteris requires full sun and good drainage; tolerates drought well.

Centaurea - Centaurea montana (perennial bachelor?s button) Blue flowers about 2 inches in diameter are held erect 12 inches or more above the basal foliage. Blooming in early summer, full sun and light soils are best. Do not confuse C. Montana with C. cyanus (cornflower, bachelor?s button), an annual that grows wild in Georgia.

Ceratostigma - Ceratostigma plumbaginoides. This plant is a low-growing perennial ground cover for full sun. The dime-size flowers are the deepest blue imaginable and provide color from July through September and beyond. It spreads by runners and does well in poor soils once established. This plant has few pests.

Chrysanthemum - Chrysanthemum X morifolium. Garden chrysanthemums perform well in all parts of Georgia, although not all varieties are cold hardy. Many colors and varieties are available. The shorter cushio types, ranging in height from 1 to 3 feet, are generally preferred for landscape use. Taller types usually require staking. C. coccineum (painted daisy) grows well in most parts of the state, as does C. X superbum (Shasta daisy). C. zawadskii (C. X rubellum) cv. Clara Curtis, a pink daisy type, is also common in the fall landscape.

Columbine - Aquilegia hybrida. Growing 2 to 3 feet tall, they are often used in borders and for cut flowers. Columbine blooms in late spring or early summer. It needs a fairly rich and well-drained soil, and will grow in sun or partial shade. The foliage frequently declines in midsummer. Plants are usually seed propagated but can be carefully divided in August or September. Leaf miner is a common pest.

Coreopsis - Coreopsis grandiflora; C. lanceolata; C. verticillata (threadleaf coreopsis). Coreopsis grows from 1 to 3 feet high and bloom from May to fall if the old flowers are removed. It grows best in full sun and is fairly drought tolerant. Coreopsis is often treated as a biennial. Yellow and gold predominate in the flower color range. Coreopsis is among the easiest perennials to grow.

Dianthus - Dianthus plumarius (pinks). Pinks are widely used in beds, borders, rock gardens, for edging and as cut flowers. Growing about 12 inches high, their blooms usually peak in late spring or early summer. Rose, pink and white predominate in the flower color range. The gray foliage is attractive and evergreen. D. deltoides, a low mat-forming plant, also performs well. Some varieties of D. chinensis (China pinks, annual pinks) perform as short-lived perennials in parts of the state.

Hemerocallis - Hemerocallis species and hybrids (daylily). Daylilies are without doubt among the most widely grown perennials in Georgia. Growing from 1 to 4 feet high, a rainbow of colors is now available. Bloom usually peaks in June or July, but varieties are available that flower from May until October. Daylilies are easily grown and have much to recommend them.

Heuchera - Heuchera sanguinea (coral bells). Coral bells produce a rosette of foliage about 6 to 12 inches high, out of which tall airy flower spikes appear in late spring to early summer. Colors range from the familiar coral to pink, white and chartreuse. Propagated by seeds or division, the foliage is attractive and usually evergreen

Lantana - Lantana camara ?Miss Huff?. This selection of lantana is apparently hardy in Georgia. This plant can grow to 7-foot mounds with spectacular flower displays from June to October. A good butterfly attractor and very pest and disease resistant, the plant dies back to its roots and emerges in very late spring or early summer about the time one is convinced it is dead. This plant does best in full sun and is drought resistant once established.

Liatris - Liatris scariosa (tall gayfeather); L. pycnostachya (Kansas gayfeather);
L. spicata. Liatris blooms summer to fall and produces tall flower spikes 2 to 6 feet high. Colors range from rose-lavender to pink. They grow best in full sun and are very heat tolerant. Several species are native to Georgia.

Peony - Peonia lactiflora. Peonies are handsome plants in the perennial border. Large showy flowers are produced on plants 3 to 4 feet high in mid- to late spring. Many colors and flower forms are available. The early blooming varieties reportedly perform better in Georgia. Peonies are marginal in central Georgia and not generally recommended for South Georgia. P. suffruticosa (tree peony) is not recommended except in northern Georgia.

Phlox - Phlox paniculata (garden phlox, summer phlox)
P. subulata (moss phlox, thrift)
P. divaricata (blue phlox)
P. carolina ?Miss Lingard?
A very diverse genus, phlox is used extensively. Garden phlox produces tall and showy flower clusters in summer; many colors are available. Moss phlox is used as a ground cover or for edging. It is very heat and drought tolerant but very intolerant of poor drainage. Many colors are available in addition to the common magenta. Blue phlox is one of the few phlox that will grow in shade. It produces a light blue flower. In shade, blue phlox is loose and open; in sun, more dense and compact.

Purple Coneflower - Echinacea purpurea. Easy to grow, purple coneflower grows to a height of 3 to 5 feet. Purple petals (ray flowers) surround black centers (disks flowers). A white variety is also available. Mildew is common on purple coneflower.

Rudbeckia - Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan). Rudbeckia is among the easiest of perennials to grow and is naturalized in many areas of the state. Most cultivated varieties grow 2 to 3 feet high and bloom early summer to fall. Orange, gold, yellow and brown colors predominate. Double-flowered varieties are available. Mildew is common on rudbeckia.

Salvia - Salvia farinacea (blue salvia); S. X superba (perennial salvia). Blue salvia produces a blue flower spike 1? to 3 feet tall; flowering begins in early summer and continues until fall. Perennial salvia produces violet-blue flower spikes. Both are useful in backgrounds and when a spike effect is desired. S. elegans (pineapple sage) is a late-blooming red species reaching 4 to 5 feet high. S. leucantha (Mexican sage), a tall, bushy, late-blooming purple species is cold tender in North Georgia. Many other salvia species are also cultivated, including the annual S. splendens (scarlet sage).

Sweet William - Dianthus barbatus. Sweet William grows 1 to 2 feet tall, producing flowers in dense flattop clusters. It is useful in borders, edging and as a cut flower. It blooms in late spring and early summer, then typically declines during the heat of summer. Colors range from white to pink, red and lavender. Sweet William is a short-lived perennial often acting as a biennial in the Southeast.

Thymus - Thymus vulgaris (common thyme). Numerous species and varieties are cultivated. Grown as a culinary herb, thyme is also an attractive garden perennial well suited to rock gardens, interplanting among stones and, of course, herb gardens. Full sun and well-drained soils are essential.

Tritoma - Kniphofia uvaria (red hot poker). Tritoma produces a strong textural feature in the garden and is usually used for accent. The flower spikes are held high above the grasslike foliage, which is semi-evergreen. Colors range from cream to yellow and the more familiar coral red. Bloom time ranges from early summer to fall depending on variety.

Verbena - Verbena canadensis (rose verbena); V. tenuisecta (moss verbena). Both are low-growing, spreading, and floriferous. ?Rosea? is the best known V. canadensis variety. Moss verbena varies from blue to purple, lilac and violet; a white variety, ?Alba? is also available. Moss verbena is often seen growing along the roadsides of Georgia. V. X hybrida varieties, usually treated as annuals, may perform as perennials in mild climates.

I'd add a few ornamental grasses for height and your planters and containers will look fantastic!

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