By the time spring rolls around, many of us are more than ready to jump full swing into the planting season. Just don't be overly anxious and not pay attention to the end frost dates for your zone. Though we have some beautifully warm days, it is the nighttime temperatures you have to worry about. Plants that get nipped by frost may be killed outright or be stunted. If you do want to get a jump start on your plants, at least pay attention to frost warnings and cover your plants at night with a sheet to protect them.
Here in zone 6 the general rule for gardening is to wait till April 15th and for those tender annuals to wait till around Mother's Day.
Yard sales, flea markets and estate sales start up again with warmer weather and offer the perfect opportunities to take advantage of searching out inexpensive "finds" for your planting containers.
You can get creative with the arrangement utilizing various containers for your plants. Keep an eye out at farm sales or flea markets for old galvanized pots and wash tubs. I save those flexible black nursery pots that young trees come in to use inside the larger tubs. You can just fill the tub itself with potting soil and plant directly in them but realize how heavy those tubs will be to move around. Also, come the end of the season it is so much easier to just lift the smaller pots out then to try to empty the tub to store for the winter. To leave the dirt in the tub encourages the bottom to rust and eventually break through. As the plants grow and fill in the plastic pots will be hidden from view.
First shown here is the African Daisy, a tough plant that can tolerate drought and poor soil. It has a profusion of brightly colored flowers all season. Pinching early in the season encourages a bushy plant and deadheading as the season progresses encourages new growth. Full sun to partial shade. Grows to about 1 foot.
Ageratum or Floss Flower does well in sun to partial shade. They don't like to dry out so water regularly. Very pretty in mass plantings, these bushy flowers get anywhere from 6 to 24 inches tall, depending on their type. Pinching them back will encourage branching out and remove the spent flowers to keep them producing new flowers.
Lantana can tolerate neglect. If put right into the ground this butterfly, bird and hummingbird attraction will grow into shrub like proportions. In a pot you'll have to pinch and prune to keep it shapely. Preferring slightly acidic soil, pine needles added to the pot will help.
New Guinea Impatiens have beautiful foilage and flowers. They love the sun, unlike the impatiens we select for shady areas. Low maintenance flowers that reach about a foot tall and wide. Great for containers.
Utilizing height, filling in the gaps, and the spilling effect brings it all together.
Sweet Potato Vine
New Guinea Impatiens