Creating captivating containers

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I eagerly look out the window. YES! It’s sunny. I pull up the weather app while I drink my morning coffee. YES! The lowest temperature in the 10-day forecast in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Michigan State University Extension has a table on statewide frost-free dates, which is a great reference for historical averages, and the climatologists are predicting above-average temperatures and rainfall for the rest of the month. What does this mean? It’s time to shop for plants! I have seen some excellent memes on social media that totally embody my viewpoint.

Every year I like to change up the plants in containers on my deck and around the garden. What should I plant this year? First, Michigan State University Extension recommends pulling up photos from different time periods of last summer and reflecting on your choices for last year. What worked? What didn’t?

Consider your location
Your primary concern for container locations should be the amount of sun they will get. North or eastern exposures of your house or locations under trees will be more suited towards shade-loving plants than the southern or westerly exposures. You should also consider wind.

For me, I reflected on the banana plants I had served as a “thriller” in my deck containers – they were show-stopping, but my deck gets strong westerly winds that tattered the leaves during summer thunderstorms, which only increased later into the fall (Photo 2). For that very same reason, a floppier plant such as the Zahara zinnias did not do very well in that same location in a saddle planter on my deck railing. On the other hand, my eastern-facing front porch was great for shade plants as it gets morning sun and is shielded by the house from the most severe winds from summer storms.


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