Nothing says "Welcome" like a large pot full of colorful flowers sitting on the porch beside the front door. Container growing has definite advantages: You can put the pots exactly where you want them and see them out of your window or whenever you step out to check the mail. It's easy to control weeds with such a small surface area, and you're likely to remember to water because they're close by.
Daffodil (Narcissus) and Hyacinth (Hyacinthus) complement each other--the yellow daffodil nods cheerily on its graceful, green stem, and the hyacinth stands sturdily by, scenting the area with its lovely pink, blue or white flowers. Plant a few of each type of bulb in an outdoor pot or planter and you'll enjoy early color when the flowers bloom in spring. Best of all, you'll be able to dig them up after they die back, store them, and plant them again in the fall for a new show the following spring.
Petunias (Petunia x hybrida) are the flower of choice for that lush, over-filled look in an outdoor pot. Picture sweeps of trailing stems with lush, green leaves and mounds of flowers in hot, eye-catching colors: bright pink, red, purple. A well-filled pot of petunias looks like a garden even if that's all you have. It's the highlight of a porch or patio or it will instantly boost curb appeal when placed by a mailbox. Petunias will bloom all summer.
Pansies (Viola x wittrockiana) provide colorful blooms through fall and into early winter. They are low-growers, getting only about 12 inches high, so they need to be in a pot that is filled almost to the brim with good soil; otherwise they'll get lost. The detail of their flowers is beautiful and eye-catching; they are variegated, meaning more than one color, and have spectacular patterns. You can get combinations that range from maroon and white to black and hot pink to blue and yellow.
Marigolds work well separately in low, shallow pots or window boxes. They are dainty flowers, composed of layers of tiny petals, in warm oranges and yellows or patterned varieties which have spots, stripes, or speckling, often of a darker orange or scarlet. They grow upright on short, straight stems. The leaves are small, dark green, and unobtrusive. Marigolds prefer full sun and a well-drained soil.
Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis) is another dainty choice that prefers the shade; put this sweet flower up under the shade of the porch or the patio awning and enjoy its graceful beauty. The blooms of a bleeding heart are heart-shaped, pink, and they grow down the long, drooping stem of the plant. Bleeding heart blooms in spring and the plant will die back after the blooms have faded and dropped. Don't worry; pop in some marigolds or pansies and enjoy the next show, and next spring the bleeding hearts will reappear.