Container gardening is economical, time-saving and fun. You can easily change the design of your garden or patio by moving pots or changing out plants. Container gardening is also good for people with little land, apartment dwellers, disabled people and cooks who just want some herbs nearby, points out John Jett, horticulture specialist with West Virginia University Extension Service. You don't need an area with lots of sun to grow container plants successfully. There are many plants that thrive in partial or full shade.
The beauty of container gardening with annuals is that every year you can try something new. Annuals will last from early spring to late fall, depending on the type. Once winter arrives, pull out your spent annuals and start planning for next year. Annuals that like shade include impatiens, coleus, wax begonia, browallia, fuchsia, lobelia, mimulus, wishbone flower, phlox and nicotiana.
Perennials in containers can last for many years. If your perennial is frost-tender, mulch well during the winter. Consider planting periwinkle, wild ginger, hostas, daylilies, monarda, coral bells, columbine, fuchsia, rue anemone, bleeding heart and ferns.
Get a head start on spring by planting bulbs in your containers in late fall. Tulips, crocuses, daffodils, scillas, snowdrops and grape hyacinths will pop up with their bright flowers even through the last snowfall.
Vegetables and Herbs
A kitchen garden right outside your door is handy if you love to cook. Plant lettuce, mint, parsley, lemon balm, kale, endive, arugula and beets. Don't be afraid to mix vegetables and herbs in with your flowers. The foliage of lettuce and kale, for instance, comes in a many shades and shapes. And some herbs, such as lemon balm and parsley, produce delicate flowers at the end of the season.
Try combining plant and flower colors for a unique theme.
Blue and pink: pink impatiens, dusty miller, pink wax begonia and Virginia bluebells. Silver and black: black elephant ear, dusty miller, lamium. Maroon: Japanese maple, caladium and oxalis. Red, white and blue: red caladium, white wax begonia and lobelia. Lime green: coral bells ("Lime Rickey" cultivar), hosta and Hakonechloa. Blue: lobelia, creeping Jenny and wishbone flower.