A pot filled to overflowing with flowers adds a sense of cheer and welcome to an entry, warms a deck with color, and even draws the eye as a focal point at the end of a garden path. Annuals are the most commonly used, but why not mix in some other plants for long-lasting interest?
These have the advantage of flowering for long periods, though you may need to deadhead, cut the spent flowers off, to promote extra blossoms. Petunias, zinnias, pelargoniums (also known as geraniums), marigolds and cosmos are all good choices. Add a few trailers, such as lobelia or lotus vine to the mix to soften the edges of the pot and give an impression of softness and lush, full growth.
Bulbs and annuals are an excellent pairing, the annuals hiding the fading foliage of the bulbs while they ripen and form new bulbs for next year. Use a large enough pot to be able to plant a group of bulbs such as daffodils and tulips for showy color and, as soon as they're available, add your annuals around the bases of the flowers. Use plenty of bone meal in the soil mix to feed the bulbs as they develop.
Perennials rarely flower for more than three weeks, but have the advantage of permanence, returning faithfully year after year, spreading and increasing your supply of plants. Why not mix them in with your annuals for greenery when out of bloom, plus a bonus of flowers? Daylilies have long, graceful leaves and flowers in a multitude of shades. Coreopsis "moonbeam" and Salvia "east friesland" are particularly long-blooming choices for containers.
For true permanence, plant a flowering shrub with annuals and, perhaps, a few perennials at the base. Azaleas and rhododendrons offer flowers in spring and evergreen leaves for winter interest. Low, shade-loving annuals and perennials can be grown at their base.
Roses are perhaps the most popular flowering shrub and many varieties can be grown in pots, miniature roses, tree roses, hybrid teas and even grandifloras. All appreciate the good drainage a pot provides and you can easily give them the rich soil they love. Since roses tend to be bare at the base, bushy flowers such as petunias and sweet alyssum look particularly attractive.