Pick the Right Plants

Whether you have sun, shade, or a little of both, here’s how to fill a pot with choices that will put on a show all season long.
Rebecca Bull Reed

Nonstop color is serious business for Jeni Munn. As a matter of fact, it is her business at Rosewood Garden Designs. Creating containers with lasting power is Jeni’s specialty. One of her secrets is knowing a thing or two about planting for dual light requirements.

“We’re careful about what we choose for the edges and back, which may become shaded or crowded as other plants mature,” says Jeni. Tall-growing annuals and perennials aren’t always the culprits. Walls, trees, and roof overhangs can also cast flower-diminishing shade on sun lovers. To avoid this problem, the Charlotte, North Carolina, designer places full- to partial-shade plants such as Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium caeruleum), Cape plumbago (Plumbago auriculata), and ‘Snowstorm Giant Snowflake’ bacopa (Sutera ‘Snowstorm Giant Snowflake’) in those areas.

 

If You’re Not Sure, Do This
Think of your pot as you would your landscape: Though it may receive full sun most of the day, it’s bound to have areas of shade as the sun moves or as larger plants mature. Before you plant, watch the light in the area where you want to place your pot. Note its progress throughout the day, and select plants accordingly. See what Jeni planted in her container in the illustration above.

 

 

Mix and Match to Make Your Own:

Full Sun
This area usually extends from the middle of the container frontward, wrapping the majority of the front edge.

  • ‘Angelina’ sedum (Sedum ‘Angelina’)
  • ‘Angelface Blue’ angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’)
  • ‘Flambé Yellow’ strawflower (Chrysocephalum apiculatum ‘Flambé Yellow’)
  • ‘Landmark Gold’ lantana (Lantana ‘Landmark Gold’)
  • ‘Pom Pom Violet’ Pentas (Pentas ‘Pom Pom Violet’)
  • ‘Summer Sky’ coneflower (Echinacea ‘Summer Sky’)
  • ‘Walkabout Sunset’ lysimachia (Lysimachia congestiflora ‘Walkabout Sunset’)

 

Partial Shade
This area extends from the middle to the back and sides.

  • ‘Diamond Frost’ euphorbia (Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’)
  • ‘Dragon Wing’ begonia (Begonia ‘Dragon Wing’)
  • ‘Escapade’ Cape plumbago (Plumbago auriculata ‘Escapade’)
  • ‘Goldflake’ mecardonia (Mecardonia ‘Goldflake’)
  • ‘Wilderness Snowball’ Japanese iris (Iris ensata ‘Wilderness Snowball’)
  • ‘Night Lights Tangerine’ russelia (Russelia ‘Night Lights Tangerine’)
  • ‘Alabama Sunset’ coleus (Coleus x ‘Alabama Sunset’)
  • ‘Snowstorm Giant Snowflake’ bacopa (Sutera ‘Snowstorm Giant Snowflake’)
  • ‘Surfinia Sky Blue’ petunia (Petunia hybrid ‘Surfinia Sky Blue’)0

Shade
This is found in the back or on one side of the pot.

  • ‘Raspberry Moon’ caladium (Caladium ‘Raspberry Moon’)
  • ‘Dolce Key Lime Pie’ coral bells (Heuchera ‘Dolce Key Lime Pie’)
  • ‘Infinity White’ New Guinea Hybrid impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri ‘Infinity White’)
  • Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium caeruleum)
  • ‘Summer Wave Blue’ torenia (Torenia ‘Summer Wave Blue’)

"Pick the Right Plants" is from the May 2008 issue of Southern Living.