Perk Up Your Fall Landscape with Containers

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Stunning mini-garden that will boost your fall garden. It includes Acorus gramineus ‘Oborozuki’. Bergenia cordifoliaSedum spurium ‘Voodoo’ and Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’. Photo: Claude Vallée

September is approaching and that means the end of the gardening season, doesn’t it? After all, frosty days will soon be at hand and most of your garden’s flowers are going rapidly downhill. But an astute professor of horticulture has discovered a way of keeping your landscape full of brilliant color well into December—even right through the winter in milder climates—by planting frost-hardy plants in containers.

Claude Vallée teaches horticulture at the Institit de Technologie Agroalimentaire in Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec and was looking for a new angle to the strictly spring-and-summer gardening hobby. Specifically, would it be possible to spice up the fall garden with containers of frost-hardy plants? So, he began experimenting and came up with a wide range of plants that would fit the bill … and also some really great designs!

Frost-Hardy to 14˚F (-10˚C)

Display of fall containers at the Roger-Van de Hende Botanical Gardens in Quebec City. Photo: Claude Vallée

Vallée tested over 400 plants for potential use in fall containers. Most flowering plants quickly fell to the wayside: their blooms were damaged by the slightest frost, although there are a few exceptions, like pansies and heathers. On the contrary, many foliage plants come through early frosts or even the first snows in mint condition. This included annuals, perennials, small shrubs and conifers, even some aromatic herbs and vegetables. 

Vallée discovered that plants hardy to 14˚F (-10˚C) were tough enough to sail through September and October, even well into November in most years even in the cold Quebec climate. Some even hardier plants made it to Christmas, putting up with 5˚F (-15˚C) nights. In zones 5 to 7, both categories would be fine until Christmas. In zones 7b to 9, they’re good for the entire winter!

The right plants sail through the first frosts and snows. Here: Festuca ovina glauca ‘Elijah Blue’, Eucalyptus gunnii ‘Silver Dollar’, Brassica oleracea ‘Chidori White’ and Senecio cineraria ‘Silver Lace’. Photo: Claude Vallée

There were some surprising finds, too. Who, for example, would have thought that the eucalyptus, which we usually think of as a subtropical tree, would hold on right through the fall, even when touched by repeated frosts! 

Pot’em Up in Late August

At first Vallée tried to create 3-season container gardens in the spring with the idea they’d last through the fall, but quickly found many plants became overgrown or, if the summer was hot, petered out by September. Instead, the ideal time to prepare the containers was in late August or early September … just when they start to become useful! 

Student holding a pot of Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’, Sedum spurium ‘Voodoo’, Viola × williamsii ‘Penny Orange Jump-Up’, Carex buchananii and Brassica oleracea ‘Pigeon Victoria’ with other containers at her feet. Photo: Claude Vallée

The technique is simple enough. All you need is a 2-gallon (7.5 l) container with a drainage hole, lightweight potting mix and assorted plants, most available in any garden center. You may already have many of them growing in your garden, in which case just dig up a few divisions.

Fill the container to within 3 inches (7 cm) of the brim with mix (no need for a “drainage layer”), remove the plants from their pots and dig individual holes so as to set each at their original depth. Fill in around the plants with mix and water thoroughly. Now, water weekly with a dilute solution of a soluble all-purpose fertilizer.

It’s that simple! No pinching, pruning or fussy maintenance is required. And since the plants are barely growing in the fall and therefore need little light, these containers will do equally well in sun or shade. Even watering needs are reduced compared to summer containers: there is simply less evaporation in the fall, so a weekly watering is inevitably sufficient.

Overwintering Woes

Snow on Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’. Photo: Claude Vallée

Pretty as these plants are in the fall, don’t expect to overwinter there, at least not if you live in zones 7 or colder. Winter will eventually do them in, as even hardy plants freeze more deeply in pots than they do in the ground. And since you’ll be using them to decorate your yard until nearly Christmas, it will likely be too late by then to plant them in the recently frozen ground. So, take this as a life lesson and learn to let go…

Of course, we all know full well that many gardeners are simply incapable of letting a plant die, so there is the one possible way of saving them. Place the container in a protected spot in December, such as a slightly heated garage or up against the house (in the latter case, cover them deeply with fall leaves). The annuals will, of course, die, but maybe—just maybe!—some of the perennials and shrubs may still be alive in the spring.

Plants for Fall Containers 

Here are descriptions of some choice plants for all containers, all hardy enough to survive to 14˚F (-10˚C) at least. Flowers are only mentioned if the plant will be blooming in the fall (most will already have bloomed earlier in the summer). 

Angelina stonecrop (Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’) (front) shares a pot with Sedum spurium ‘Voodoo’ and Acorus gramineus ‘Oborozuki’. Bergenia cordifolia is partly hidden. Photo: Claude Vallée

Angelina Stonecrop (Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’): A creeping stonecrop with thick, dense “needles” of golden yellow that become orange yellow in fall. 

Bergenia (Bergenia crassifolia, formerly B. cordifolia): Thick, rubbery spoon-shaped leaves, dark green at first but becoming purple as the weather cools. The giant leaves of full-grown plants can overwhelm smaller containers: prefer young plants.

Blue Rush (Juncus inflexus ‘Blue Arrow’): Upright, clumping, grasslike plant with blue-green leaves. 

Bugleweed (Ajuga reptant cvs): There are dozens of cultivars of this low-growing groundcover with green to purple to variegated leaves. You probably won’t have to buy plants: just dig a clump out of your flower bed!

‘Smaradg’ arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaradg’, back) is just one of the many conifers you could use in fall containers. The pot also includes Thymus ‘Golden King’, Carex morrowii ‘Variegata’, Heuchera ‘Obsidian’ and, just peeping out towards the back, Salvia officinalis ‘Icterina’. Photo: Claude Vallée

Conifers (Thuja occidentalisChamaecyparis spp., Picea spp., etc.): Look for young plants of these evergreens rather than commercial-size plants: the latter are expensive and too large for most containers. You may be able to find a few self-sown conifers in your yard for free!

Cordyline (Cordyline australis, often sold as C. indivisa): The classic “dracaena spike” used in summer containers, with its narrow, arching green leaves, easily takes -10˚C and keeps on looking good. A more colorful version is ‘Red Star’, with deep purple-red foliage, or try any one of the variegated ones, like ‘Torbay Dazzler’ or ‘Cherry Sensation’.

Dusty miller (Senecio cineraria ‘Silver Lace’), with silvery leaves, is one of the cold-hardiest annuals. Also seen are Carex morrowii ‘Variegata’ and Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’. Photo: Claude Vallée

Dusty Miller (Senecio cineraria): Deeply cut ever-so-silver leaves on a compact upright plant. Surprisingly hardy for a plant sold as an annual!

English ivy (Hedera helix cvs): Popular houseplant and container plant with creeping, weeping stems and star-shaped leaves in green, gold or green and white. Root a few cuttings in mid-August and stick them in the container! 

Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus gunnii): Rounded silvery-blue leaves on reddish stems. It’s a tree in Australia … but never more than a shrub when grown as an annual.

Flowering Cabbage (Brassica oleracea ‘Kamome Pink’). Photo: Claude Vallée

Flowering Cabbage (Brassica oleracea): The centers of the big rosettes of blue-green to reddish leaves react to cold by turning red, pink or white, looking like a giant rose. Leaves can be entire or fringed. Flowering kale (B. oleracea acephala) produces a stem rather than a rosette, but is otherwise similar. ‘Redbor’ kale, with deeply cut purple leaves, is a popular choice. In December, harvest cabbages and kales and cook them up: ornamental or not, they are still cabbages and will taste especially good after having been frosted (cold brings out their sugars).

Heather (Calluna vulgaris): Small shrub with short, needlelike leaves. Covered all through the fall in tiny bell-shaped blooms in shades of magenta, pink, red or white. If the flowers freeze, not to worry: even when dead, they hold their color!

Heuchera (Heuchera × hybrida): Rosette of colorful maple-shaped leaves in a wide range of colors, from golden to orange to purple to silver, hey, even green! You could do nothing but put heucheras in pots and still have a great fall display!

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): Clumping, upright plant with narrow dark green wonderfully aromatic leaves. ‘Silver Edge’ (the name says it all!) is particularly attractive in containers.

Leatherleaf sedge (Carex buchananii): Clumps of narrow reddish-brown leaves make this grasslike plant stand out from the others. 

Lemon thyme (Thymus ‘Golden King’ [sold as T. × citriodorus ‘Variegatus’]): Creeping habit. Small leaves edged in gold. The whole plant is delightfully lemon scented. 

Not many flowering plants can take repeated frosts, but pansies and their mini-cousins, violas, can. Here is viola ‘Penny Orange Jump-Up’ (Viola × williamsii ‘Penny Orange Jump-Up’) with Carex buchananii. and Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’. Photo: Claude Vallée

Pansy and viola (Viola spp.): Among the hardiest flowering plants. The flat-faced blooms can be plain, moustachioed or blotched and come in every shade imaginable. Look for young plants just starting to bloom (mature ones tend to fall to pieces when transplanted).

Periwinkle (Vinca minor and V. major): The first is hardy to zone 4 when grown in the ground, the second not so much so (zone 8), but both produce creeping stems of dark shiny green leaves that drape beautifully over pot edges. Variegated varieties are especially choice!

Purple wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’) on a frosty morn. Photo: Claude Vallée

Purple wood spurge (Euphorbia amygdaloides ‘Purpurea’): Clusters of upright stems with narrow, deep purple leaves. Stunning when touched with frost! 

Sage (Salvia officinalis): Beautifully textured and highly aromatic gray-green leaves on short stems. Try ‘Tricolor’ (purplish green with a white and pink margin) or ‘Icterina’ (green and yellow). 

Frost on variegated Japanese sedge (Carex morrowii ‘Variegata’). Photo: Claude Vallée

Variegated Japanese sedge (Carex morrowii ‘Variegata’): Perfect mound of narrow arching grasslike leaves with creamy centers and green margins. Other cultivars feature inverted variegation or are more intensely yellow and green.

Variegated sweet flag (Acorus gramineus ‘Oborozuki’): Clumps of narrow green leaves striped yellow make this aroid look much like a grass. ‘Ogon’ is similar.

Voodoo stonecrop (Sedum spurium ‘Voodoo’): There are lots of green, reddish and variegated forms of this sedum, but ‘Voodoo’, with its deep mahogany red leaves, is the most colorful. The small leaves are succulent with scalloped edges.

Weeping rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Renzels’ Irene™): A creeping to trailing variety of rosemary with pinelike “needles” that are suavely scented. For an aromatic thrill, run your fingers through the leaves each time you pass! 

Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald Gaiety’). Photo: http://www.crocus.co.uk

Wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei cvs): Cultivars with variously variegated leaves of this low-growing shrub or creeper are widely available. Although the mature form is sold as a hardy shrub (well, hardy to zone 5 if grown in the ground, that is!), you may have to look for the young plants you’ll need in the houseplant department!


Fall containers: so simple, so beautiful. Why haven’t you been preparing them your entire gardening life?

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How I Learned to Garden on a Balcony

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Small containers like these are going to need a lot of watering! Photo: getinterior.me

My first balcony vegetable garden, nearly 40 years ago, was a dismal failure.

I’d had my own plot in my father’s vegetable bed since I was a kid and thought I knew a thing or two about gardening, but gardening in containers was something quite different. So, that first year, I had little to show for my horticultural talents other than some very bitter lettuce. 

However, at least I immediately understood where I had gone wrong. 

I’d used the cheapest containers I could find (I was a student, so budget was an issue): three small flower boxes only about 4 inches (10 cm) wide and deep. They dried out so quickly I couldn’t keep up with the watering. In hot weather, I had to inundate them twice a day, morning and evening, and even then, when I rushed home from my summer job at 5:30 p.m., the plants were often already wilting.

Wilting tomato plants… in tiny pots. Small pots are sooo hard to water correctly! Photo: Christina Sanvito, Flickr

Wilting plants, you see, don’t give delicious roots, leaves and fruits, especially when they wilt repeatedly. Mostly, they either die or go to seed!

Second Try

By year two, I was better prepared. I’d kept a bunch of paint cans that, with holes punched in the bottom, were of what I thought would be a decent size for a lettuce plant or carrot or two. Still they required a lot of watering and the results were borderline at best.

However, I had also recuperated one rusty bucket that I likewise punched drainage holes into and used to house a lone tomato plant. It was perhaps three times bigger than the paint cans.

What a difference that made! The tomato plant grew to be huge and produced hordes of fresh, red, delicious tomatoes. And only needed watering every few days, not twice a day. I was onto something.

Bigger Is Better

Growing vegetables in a bucket is a snap! Photo: The Rusted Garden, youtube.com

In preparation for year three, I scrounged big containers from fall through spring. I even used a plastic trash can (hint: that was overkill)! But mostly 5-gallon (19-liter) plastic buckets. I discovered I could get food-grade buckets free from supermarkets and bakery shops (today, 40 years later, my current supermarket no long gives them away, but sells them for a dollar: more than reasonable.). Stores receive various goods in them (flour, olives, soy sauce, etc.) and would otherwise toss them after use. 

I’d bring them home, wash them, then punch drainage holes in the bottom. And used the money I hadn’t spent on pots to buy potting soil, lots and lots of potting soil. 

These buckets contain a large mass of soil and soil is Mother Nature’s water reservoir. So, a large mass of potting soil* holds a great deal of water, giving your system excellent watering autonomy. I found, in most cases, watering thoroughly once a week was all I needed. I know a lot of people add water reservoirs to such buckets, seeking even more autonomy, but I never found any reason to do so. I just use potting mix as a water reservoir, filling the bucket nearly to the brim with it and watering thoroughly as needed. Simple enough!

*Don’t use soil harvested from the garden in a container: it packs down and becomes hard as a rock, plus tends to harbor slugs and other pests.

Bigger containers mean better harvests: it’s all very simple. Photo: The Rusted Garden, youtube.com

As years went by, I learned to use those big Rubbermaid type tubs as well and really big and deep flower boxes to hang off the balcony’s railing to gain more space. Hanging baskets too will work, but remain iffy: exposed to moving air on all sides, they dry out really quickly, so you need big, deep ones. 

I was off to the races! 

Container Size Solves All

Every other “complication” of balcony gardening paled in comparison to container size. Yes, you need to fertilize and stake and run cords to the balcony above for climbing vegetables, and running a hose from the kitchen sink to the veggies is practically a must, but that’s all fairly simple to do. And yes, sun is vital … but most balconies project out, offering most sun than you might think at first. No, you probably do not have room on your balcony to grow corn, asparagus and rhubarb, but any other vegetable will grow beautifully. 

An artist’s rendering of my old balcony vegetable garden. Ill.: Claire Tourigny, from the book Les idées du jardinier paresseux

Still, although I now garden in the ground again, I’ve never gotten such great results with vegetables as I have on a balcony. Not even 100 square feet (10 square meters) of growing space and yet I had vegetables enough to give away, a true urban farm. The absence of slugs, rodents and other garden pests on a 4th floor balcony was a big help, of course. And, in case you wonder, bees do visit and pollinate your plants many stories above the ground: in fact, they show up in surprising numbers.


Balcony gardening: the secret to success is the container you grow your veggies in!

Can I Prune a Lilac in August?

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Illus.: pixy.org

Question: Is August too late to prune our French lilac?

Allie Dipietro

Answer: It all depends on what you want to prune and why.

If you simply want to remove the seed capsules from a common or French lilac (Syringa vulgaris), go ahead … but cut only the leafless stem at the tip of the branch that carries the capsules, not the secondary branches just below, the ones with green leaves. It’s from those branches that next year’s flowers will appear, as, by August, they already carry the buds of the blooms to come. If you cut back too far, removing foliage and not just bare stem and seed capsules, you’ll reduce next year’s blooms.

In passing, deadheading lilacs, that is, removing the faded flowers and the seed capsules that follow, is a popular but essentially useless task. Read Garden Myth: Deadheading Lilacs Improves Bloom to understand why. Do it only if those seed capsules really bother you!

If you want to prune your lilac to reshape it or to reduce its height, you could do it now, but it would be better to wait until spring. You see, if you prune in August, the lilac may produce new shoots that won’t have the time to harden off properly (prepare for winter) and they could be damaged by winter cold, obliging you to prune again in the spring.

If, however, you’re just considering removing a branch that is bothering you for any reason—it rubs against the house, hangs over a path, making foot traffic difficult, is dead, damaged or broken—, etc., by all means prune it now. You can eliminate wayward and unwanted branches at any season.

You can remove suckers at any season. Photo: http://www.governancecoach.com

Also, if you want to eliminate the suckers that grow at the foot of the shrub—and they can be very numerous—, go for it! Again, you can remove them in any season. Cut them as close to the ground as possible, even below ground level if you can, as this helps eliminate regrowth. Or, dig them out with a shovel.

A Few Good Plant Choices

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Boxwood Green Velvet (Buxus Green Velvet™). Photo: http://www.amazon.com

The following article was adapted from a press release by Handpicked for You® as prepared by the team of horticulture experts at Sheridan Nurseries in Ontario. Handpicked for You® specializes in “reliable plants for home gardeners,” plants that are disease resistant, low maintenance and zone hardy. 

Boxwoods are cherished landscape plant with year-round deep green color, deer resistance and, in some cases, superior hardiness. In 1973, Sheridan Nurseries introduced Green Velvet boxwood (Buxus Green Velvet™) that has bright green new growth which provides great contrast against perennials. In 1975, Buxus Green Mountain was introduced and is cherished for requiring minimal pruning to make a formal pyramid shape. Both are hardy in Canadian/USDA zones 4 to 9 and grow well in shade or sun.

Annabelle hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’). Photo: http://www.amazon.com

Annabelle hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’) has massive white snowball-like blooms that make a breathtaking display in any garden or landscape design. It flowers on new wood, so even hard freezes won’t hold this plant back. Flower clusters will appear in late spring to summer and will reach up to 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. The stems may need a bit of staking to hold the blooms up to show off every inch of beauty. Ideal for sun or partial sun locations. Zones 3 to 9.

Miss Kim lilac (Syringa patula ‘Miss Kim’). Photo: http://www.cramer.ca

Miss Kim lilac (Syringa patula ‘Miss Kim’) is a slower growing lilac with dazzling purple buds that open to light-lavender fragrant blooms in May or June. Prune after flowering to keep the plant more compact. Most lilacs are enjoyed as a spring plant, but the foliage of Miss Kim turns burgundy red in autumn. Plant in an area that receives full sun. Zones 3 to 8.

Yucca Color Guard (Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’). Photo: http://www.amazon.com

Sometimes we need a plant to thrive drought tolerant areas with at least some tolerance of cold winters. Yucca Color Guard (Yucca filamentosa ‘Color Guard’) adds architectural shape, structure, and color to containers and beds in sunny areas. The long green and yellow leaves are striking, and white flowers bear a dramatic contrast midsummer, although it doesn’t flower every year. Great for rock gardens, erosion control, mass plantings, and areas that receive coastal exposure. Zones 5 to 10.

Dwarf Japanese juniper (Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’). Photo: Rašo, Wikimedia Commons

Junipers are one of our favorite coniferous plants to add year-round interest. Dwarf Japanese juniper (Juniperus procumbens ‘Nana’) thrives in areas that receive partial to full sun. Bright green growth emerges from the center and deepens to a blue-green as it matures. In winter, the plant will have a purplish tinge that contrasts greatly against snow. This juniper is better left unpruned and will cascade down slopes or can be staked upright. Zones 4 to 9.

Blue Chip juniper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’). Photo: http://www.connonnurseries.com

If you’re looking for a juniper to cascade over walls and that grows in rocky, sandy soil, we love to recommend Blue Chip juniper (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’). This conifer is prized for its green-blue foliage. The species is native to regions in Alaska, Canada, and northern U.S. such as Wyoming and Montana. Zones 2-9.

Is It Safe to Drink Water From a Garden Hose?

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Refreshing, yes, but is it safe? Photo: http://www.aeropaca.org

Well, who hasn’t done it? It’s a hot day, you’re thirsty, but you’re at the far end of the garden and the hose is right there, so you turn it on and take a bit of a sip. Harmless, right? 

Not quite!

Garden hoses were not designed to supply potable (drinking quality) water. The hose and its brass fittings can release lead, antimony, bromine and other toxic minerals. Also, phthalates are used to make the hose more flexible and these too are toxic. BPA is also found in many hoses. The most common plastic used in making garden hose is polyvinyl chloride, which may give off toxic vinyl chloride. Of course, what the hose is made from and what leaches into the water it produces can be very different, but even so…

A study published in 2016 by the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan that tested 32 commercially available garden hoses found lead levels exceeding safe levels in water in half the garden hoses tested while the water produced by some hoses had very high levels of phthalates and BPA.

Look for drinking water safe garden hose. Photo: http://www.waterrightinc.com

There is good, news, though. The same study found the levels of toxic materials are decreasing compared to a previous study, as hose producers have started switching to safer garden hoses. Less lead is being used in fittings (some are now labeled “lead-free”) and you can now find hoses labeled “drinking water safe” that are free of significant lead, bromine, antimony, and tin, although a few do give off phthalates. The best choice for safety concerned consumers is PVC-free hose, such as one made of polyurethane or natural rubber.

Sometimes you have to go to the camping department to find a drinking water safe hose. Photo: http://www.cylex-locale.fr

Oddly, you may have trouble finding a drinking water safe garden hose in the garden hose section of your hardware store. If so, look into the camping supplies or boat supplies departments. They’re bound to have safe hoses.

If You Must Drink…

Yes, it’s certainly cute, but you shouldn’t let a child drink from a garden hose that isn’t “drinking water safe”. Photo: CrazyFunnyStuffCFS
  • Let the hose run for 5 seconds before drinking. It’s water that’s been sitting in the hose that will have the highest levels of chemicals.
  • Store your hose in the shade. The heat from the sun causes chemicals to leach into the water. If it was stored in the sun, let it run cool before drinking.
  • Don’t let children drink from garden hoses. They’re more sensitive to harmful chemicals than adults. Before you even fill a child’s wading pool, let the water run for a while.
  • Apply the same rules before letting your pet drink from garden hoses, that is, let it run for a while first. 

And What About Your Vegetables?

So much for drinking from the hose, but how safe are vegetables watered with a garden hose? 

Toxic levels of lead do occur in produce, but are inevitably due to contaminated soils, not to watering. High levels of phthalates are occasionally found in organically grown vegetables as well, but phthalates are so common in our environment that it’s hard to prove they are due to the use of garden hose.

So, there is no real proof that watering with a garden hose renders vegetables unsafe.

Even so, if you garden organically, you might want to consider switching to a drinking water safe hose.

Separate Beds for Vegetables and Flowers?

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You may get better vegetable pollination when flowers are grown in a separate bed. Photo: urbanpollinators.blogspot.com

Two generations of gardeners have been raised on the concept that you can attract beneficial pollinating insects to vegetable beds by companion planting: placing flowering plants rich in pollen and nectar in among the vegetables. Plant a marigold, calendula or phacelia, etc. here and there among the vegetables and this will draw in pollinators like bees, butterflies and hoverflies that will then visit and pollinate flowering vegetables with less attractive flowers like cukes, squash, and melons. At least, that’s what we were told.

It’s a great idea in theory, but many gardeners are not finding they get a lot of pollinating insect visits when they put this into application. Apparently, just the occasional flowering plant isn’t enough of a magnet to draw in the number of pollinators you’d really need. You want masses of flowers.

Flowers in one bed, veggies in another. Photo: http://www.westcoastseeds.com

That’s why the latest trend is to place the flowering plants in a separate bed right next to the vegetable garden: in other words, put in a flower garden! This pulls in many more insects (you’ll never have seen so many butterflies, for example!) This is now being done in many home and public gardens and the results are quite amazing. The flower bed buzzes with insects, so much so that this causes traffic jams, pushing some pollinators to look elsewhere while waiting for their turn … and that elsewhere will likely be the vegetable beds right next door. 

This is the method now being used with great success in the Idea Garden in Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, Pennsylvania). A long rectilinear cut flower bed cuts through the center of its vegetable beds, assuring plenty of pollinators for needy vegetable plants on either side. 

With more and more gardeners complaining they’re just not getting pollinator traffic they used to, often obliging them to hand pollinate their veggies, this is certainly a method you might want to explore.

30 Flowers to Try

Among the many flowering plants that you could put in a pollinator-friendly flower bed are the following:

Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia), an easy-to-grow annual, attracts plenty of pollinators. Photo: http://www.crocus.co.uk
  1. Anise hyssop (Agastache spp.)
  2. Aster (Aster spp., Symphotrichum spp., Eurybia spp., etc.)
  3. Bachelor’s buttons or cornflower (Centaurea cyanus and others)
  4. Bee balm or bergamot (Monarda spp.)
  5. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.)
  6. Blazing star (Liatris spp.)
  7. Borage (Borago officinalis)
  8. Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)
  9. Butterfly weed (Asclepias spp.)
  10. Calendula or pot marigold (Calendula officinalis)
  11. Celosia or cock’s comb (Celosia spp.)
  12. Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
  13. Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.)
  14. Cosmos (Cosmos spp.) 
  15. Echinacea or purple coneflower (Echinacea spp.)
  16. False Queen Anne’s lace (Ammi majus)
  17. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
  18. Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)
  19. Lantana (Lantana spp.)
  20. Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
  21. Lupin (Lupinus spp.)
  22. Marigold (Tagetes spp.)
  23. Phacelia (Phacelia spp.)
  24. Phlox (Phlox spp.)
  25. Scabiosa or pincushion flower (Scabiosa spp.)
  26. Stonecrop (Sedum spp.)
  27. Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
  28. Tall verbena (Verbena bonariensis)
  29. Yarrow (Achillea spp.)
  30. Zinnia (Zinnia spp.)

Put Heavy Pots on Wheels

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Do you have large pots that are difficult to move? Just put them on wheels!

Many garden centers offer plant dollies or plant caddies, most simply saucers on wheels. And if you can’t find one locally, you can order one on the Internet. Most are large enough for mid-size to large plants, allowing you to move them where you want and to give them a regular quarter turn with a minimum of effort.

And you can easily make your own plant dolly if you want: just add 3 or 4 wheels, available at any hardware store, to a square section of board, glue a plant saucer on top and you’re off to the races!

Article originally published on July 31, 2015.
Illustration by Claire Tourigny, from the book Les 1500 trucs du jardinier paresseux.