The Q&A Archives: plants for our front porch

Question: Front of our house faces west, about 1 PM until at least 6 PM, the sun is shining on our front porch. We want to put couple of hanging baskets out there with a flower box. What kind of plants (flowering plants too) will thrive out there all seasons. Our front porch looks dull. Help! Thanks, Lisa & Eric

Answer: Most annuals and perennials bloom for a short time so mixing and matching seasonal plants is your best bet for the hanging baskets and flower boxes in hot summer sunshine. Some of the best plants to consider include:
Portulaca, aka. Moss Roses - Multi-colored, bright flowers that open in the morning and close at night. Self- sowing. Needs a warm, sunny, well-drained exposure. Tolerates hot, dry, poor soil. Great at the base of mailboxes.

Straw Flowers - Colorful, stiff blooms with lots of green leaves. Absolutely gorgeous. Hard to find for planting. Often used in planters and arrangements. Tolerates hot, dry, poor soil. Another winner for the base of mailboxes.

Marigolds - Yellow, orange, red or even bi-colored flowers. Pungent odor. Various sizes. Can be in full sun. Grows bushy quickly. Tolerant of drought.

Pansies - Can be perennials. Many colors. Can wilt in hot weather but perk up when weather cools. Pick for more compact plants and profuse blooms.

Geraniums - Perennial. Large flower clusters - red, salmon, pink, orange, or white. Can be grown from cuttings. Some are scented. Very popular. Intense heat can kill them. Like full sun but can take a little shade in hot areas.

Impatiens - Shade or sun. Upright or low and sprawling. Vibrant colors. Good container plant. Requires full sun to bring out color in foliage. Likes cool and moist soil but cannot tolerate frost. Can be grown from cuttings.

Nasturtium - Easy to grow. Many colors. Full sun. Dry, sandy, infertile soil. Over watering or fertilizing results in a multitude of leaves and few flowers.

Petunia - Newer ones are disease resistant. Come in many shapes and sizes. Unlimited colors. Can be decimated by heavy rainstorms. Trailing ones are great for pots, planters, and boxes. Wither in hot weather.

Snapdragon - Perennial. Many colors. Cool-weather plants. Like full sun. Will thrive in light shade with fewer blooms. Like fertile, slightly-alkaline soil. Cutting the flowers helps to keep them blooming.

Wax Begonia - Perennial. Covered with large clumps of flowers all summer long. Pink, red, or white flowers. Light shade is ideal.

Zinnia - Annuals. All colors except blue. Grow tall 12" to 3' but doesn't need staking. Prone to mildew. Makes excellent cut flowers.

Hope this short list gives you some ideas!

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