This week I put together a container planting as a present for my mother on Mother’s Day. I couldn’t talk about it here as a post until after today since she checks my site regularly. This was my first real attempt at arranging a decorative container. I’ve gardened in pots for a long time but it was usually vegetables with the occasional one or two decorative plants in a pot. I tend to think of putting plants in the ground rather than containers but after this experience it may be something that I dabble with in the future. It was kind of fun to find the right plants to fit together to match the right kind of container.
If you think about it there are so many possibilities with pots. The container could have been a square planter, a pedestal planter, terracotta, plastic, glazed, colored, molded, concrete, handmade, or one of many other possible options. Here is what I picked.
At first glance you would probably say that it was a glazed terracotta pot. That’s what I would guess but I would be wrong. It’s really made of fiberglass! A fiberglass container has some advantages over its terracotta cousins. It’s lighter and much easier to move around. You also have the flexibility to easily add more drainage since all that is needed is a drill to put a few more holes in the bottom.
Once I found the container it was time to go to the part that was the most fun: Finding the Plants! When I was searching one plant really stood out as a good centerpiece for the container.
Meet Cordyline australis ‘Red Star’! This plant likes it in the sun and partial shade. It’s hardy down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit so it may not overwinter outdoors well here in Tennessee, but it could excel as an indoor houseplant and a summer patio plant. It’s a native to New Zealand where it grows up to 20 feet tall at maturity. It’s a member of the Dracaenaceae family and does well in drought but as a container planting it will need regular watering as all container plants tend to dry out fast.
The cordyline became the tall specimen plant in the back of the container and now I needed something to stand beside it. Something colorful that would blend well with the burgundy colored foliage and reddish tint of the container. I found something that would work, Helenium ‘Dakota Gold’. This helenium is an annual that has nice yellow flowers that blend well with the burgundy cordyline. The foliage is also very different being green and narrow, yet still kind of grass-like.
Now what could I put in the front of the pot. I wanted something low growing and colorful. With all the red-tinted colors of the pot and the cordyline I thought yellow might be a good option again. I picked some ‘King Edward’ Yarrow (Achillea lewisii) that would work well in the front of the pot. It’s a low growing pale yellow flowering plant with a maximum height of six inches. That may vary depending on soil conditions. I bought two of them thinking that they would both fit in the pot but I was very wrong. Too bad I didn’t have the container with me when I was plant shopping.
I wanted an intermediate color for the container. Something that wasn’t yellow but wasn’t red either. I found these marigolds that fit the bill. One six pack of these annual flowers was enough to fill the gaps on the sides of the container, provide a little height behind the achillea, and add that intermediate color. Marigolds are also a good companion plant for many other plants.
I was very pleased with this container for my first real attempt at flower arranging. These plants should look good for this growing season. The cordyline will need to be overwintered indoors when the temperatures get colder. The hellenium and the marigolds are both annuals that will fade away come fall while the yarrow could be put into mom’s landscape for next year. I’ll share a picture of it with you in a few weeks when it’s all in bloom.