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What is a tough perennial to put in a container?

Stewart, TN

I'm in the process of preparing a large container to stand in mixed sun and shade and have put in a chartreuse sweet potato vine and some variegated ivy. I was looking for something more vertical for contrast but couldn't find an annual I really liked.

What kinds of perennials are tough enough for containers? We get some really hot weather in August and I've had a lot of container plants succumb during that time, even with ample water and part shade.

(Debra) Garland, TX

If you like Daylilies, I'd try one of those. Or there are Clematis that only grow 2-3 foot tall and do well in pots. :-)

Ozone, AR(Zone 6a)

LOL Rebbeca, If your Sweetpotato vine is like mine it'll grow all over your container and up and out.
That is one determined plant.
Vickie

boone, NC(Zone 5b)

Rebecca, have you thought about using a small tree in your container? We use them year after year, placing them in the unheated basement of an out building here during the winter--a good watering before they enter and no more water until we take them out for the Spring. Some trees do especially well in pots. We have found certain maples are particularly receptive to containers: amur maples, snakebark maples, and trident maples in particular. We buy a small tree and underplant it every Spring with annuals or other perennials. Some of our maples have been in their pots now for over 8 years. The ones I listed above actually seem to thrive on their container conditions.

boone, NC(Zone 5b)

Followup: perhaps we're doing something wrong, but we have found that while Japanese maples do well in pots for a few years, they eventually scream for ground. The one we have that has been happy for over 5 years now is our "Lion's Head" maple. A real surprise was that a variegated Zelcova has been happy as a lark now for 5 years or so in its container. You might also consider black bamboo. We over winter it as well in a large pot and make sure to cut out 1/3 of it every Spring (makes the other canes much larger and blacker). We keep it in its original pot and then sink that pot into a larger container in the Spring and then underplant it. Great vertical effect.

Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

wha on Northeast Garden forum does a lot with JM's and has some in containers. Give him a nudge. He is very happy to advise.

(Debra) Garland, TX

he advised on a sale co-op i bought an JM orangeola from early this year and he really knows his stuff. :-)

Stewart, TN

Thank you very much for some excellent and practical as well as creative suggestions which I am printing out to study. I'll try to come up with a good result and post some pictures. DG rocks!

(Debra) Garland, TX

Orangeola Japanese Maple.

Area around is cluttered, but you can see it is happy in the pot. :-)

Thumbnail by lovemyhouse
Stewart, TN

What a truly beautiful tree! You are so wise to have it sturdily staked - we have had some plants and trees damaged by wind recently. You get VERY hot weather in your area, right? Is your JM somewhat shaded?

(Debra) Garland, TX

The house faces North, so the porch is shaded from about 12:30 in Summer. Didn't have it staked for the first month. Then we had wild winds and it seemed prudent to find a big stick. :-) interested to see how it does the next three months. Running almost 10 degrees above normal already. Doesn't bode well for a mild season. :/

(Judith) Denver, CO(Zone 5b)

rebecca, you can grow a lot of perennials in your containers. Look for gaillardia, african daisies, lilies, roses, achillea, coreopsis, butterfly bush, rudbeckia, goldenrod, verbena, grasses. Anything you can grow in the ground you can grow in a container. Just keep it well watered during your hot season, sometimes that means twice a day.

Stewart, TN

Perhaps I've been too narrow in my thinking about what would work. I've had some plants growing in "Earth" boxes, like tomatoes and lisianthus, that were doing just beautifully until we got to the end of August and then they just got pale and listless and quit blooming and bearing, so I've been nervous about trying other things in containers. Do you use a particular kind of soil?

Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

I use Miracle-Gro Water retentive mix. It containes those crystals that stay moist.
I also water regularly.

(Judith) Denver, CO(Zone 5b)

I tried the Miracle Gro this year in my containers, and I don't think things are performing nearly as well as in what I was using before. I used ProMix, just plain peat, and Osmocote that I put in myself. I'm going to start using ProMix and Osmocote again next year. The MG just didn't do it this year. I also put water crystals in the mix..

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