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Each year the planting of annuals on the porch is an exciting activity that helps create a more pleasant atmosphere. Typically I choose fast growing annuals that quickly grow into a lush and vibrant balustrade garden. I tend to choose annuals for their foliar interest because the sun light doesn’t hit this spot until late afternoon and flower production would be minimal.

This year I wanted to change things up a bit. I am experimenting with lower growing annuals and various spillers for added texture. Also, I have under planted the boxes with impatients as the sun is too intense for them, but with a bit of cover they will be a bit happier spending the summer in this spot.

The chosen plants for the balustrade are heliotrope ‘fragrant delight,’ gomphrena ‘buddy purple,’ sweet potato vine ‘sweet caroline purple,’ lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea,’ bacopa, and impatients.


Heliotrope ‘Fragrant Delight’

Heliotrope is a highly fragrant annual that can grow up to thirty inches tall and heavily perfume its surroundings. For me the scent of this plant reminds me of lily of the valley and a gourmet pastry shop.


Gomphrena ‘Buddy Purple’

This particular annual is vibrant and a great filler.


Diamond Frost

One of the three trailers I have planted this year. This will grow all season long and provide a nice contract to the other larger leaved plants.


Sweet Potato Vine ‘Sweet Caroline Purple.’

As common as potato vines are, they are by far the best of the trailing plants. This variety of potato vine has a more interesting leaf shape and seems to get bushy and full, but not so big it takes over other plants.


Standard White Bacopa

I haven’t tried this annual, but I wanted a spilling flower show for some added interest. Petit petunias would have been a better choice, but they need all day sun to show their true potential.


Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’

One of my favorite perennial used here will create a dramatic effect and is most superb. This variety is the golden form of lysimachia and another way to add foliar interest. If you plan on planting lysimachia in planters and pots, you can dig them out and over winter them in the ground to reuse them the following season. As the root system grows mature, you will have a more vigorous plant that quickly fills out and it’s free.


Here are the newly planted flower boxes on the balustrade. The combination is still quiet and serene, but with a bit more personality than my typical plant choices.


Now that the plants are settled in for the summer, it’s a good idea to keep them watered and fed for the best show they can provide. Check out my potting plants glossary for instructions on filling and planting container gardens. I do want to add a bit more information on what I do to keep potted gardens growing well all season.

Choose larger starts for your pots as they will fill in sooner so they can be enjoyed earlier in our short growing season. Feed them initially with a good fertilizer that I have explained in the potting glossary and also a gentle liquid feed once a week. Only the potted plants get an additional feed because I try to fill pots with as many plants I can fit into them leaving very little room for the roots to expand. By feeding them with a good liquid feed such as fish emulsion or a mineral based one you are able to keep their growth constant.

Watering potted plants deeply will ensure good growth and overall happy plants. Just to say how much water my balustrade garden needs depends on the plants used. If I planted my typical coleus and potato vines the boxes would require nearly a gallon of water per box a day once the boxes explode with fullness. So remember to keep containers deeply watered especially in hot weather and enjoy the show.


I am always finding ways to expand the gardens at my home. With each year the area of open ground is getting smaller. What is left and a little neglected are the massive expanses of stone terraces and wood decking. There is no better way to add more gardening excitement than potted plants.

One special area on the property is a lightly shaded stone terrace. It was here long before the thought of a garden was considered. In this area there isn’t much to plant in the ground and with large stately trees taking in most of the nutrients, I figure why not garden in pots. I have yet to over-winter perennials for this area, but for now I am experimenting with anything that will thrive, making this secluded place more special.

When considering what to write about and fulfill the mission for what this blog is about, I think that creating a beautiful and restful garden space to be necessary. Once the stone terrace garden is planted and well looked after, a relaxing moment here would be perfect.

Of all the hard work that will go into this potted garden, I wanted to take the time to discuss the importance of proper planting of such a garden. Potting plants are a quick fix for any trouble areas a garden may have and moving them around to accommodate a garden cocktail party will be a breeze.

1-plants | 2- pots | 3- potting mix | 4- granular fertilizer

5- slow-release fertilizer | 6- pea gravel | 7- screen material


The photo above illustrates all of the supplies used to pot plants, with the exception of landscaping fabric.

Items are listed clockwise from top-left.


Potting Plants:

1: Thoroughly clean pots of any dirt and root bits. Soak for one hour before filling if using terra-cotta.

2: Place a piece of screen material over the drainage hole.

3: Add a two inch layer of pea gravel.

4: Place a circle piece of landscaping fabric over the gravel.

Cut a piece larger than what would cover the gravel so the fabric can form a bowl that catches the potting mix. I think a few inches of rise will be enough.

4: Fill 2/3 full of prepared potting soil mix. [Potting Mix Recipe Below]

5: Nestle in plants and fill in with extra potting mix.

6: Water well and make sure water streams out the bottom of each pot.

7: [Optional] Cover the surface of the soil with pea gravel. This helps prevent soil from splashing onto the plants during heavy rains and gives a neater appearance.

The photo above is a cross-section of what a medium to large prepared pot should look like. The pea gravel in the base of the pot will facilitate better drainage. Also, the pea gravel will weigh down a pot that may become top heavy as plants mature. If your pots require a lighter treatment, try using packing peanuts in place of the pea gravel. This is great for surfaces that do not need any more weight pushing down on them, such as a rooftop garden.

I use a basic quality type potting mix with no fertilizers in it. Choosing to add nutrients are a personal preference, one that I love to experiment with and its nice knowing how your plants are to be fed. For the potting mix formula I add two tablespoons slow-release fertilizer and two tablespoons organic granular fertilizer for every gallon of potting mix. If you have any homemade compost on hand, add a cup full for a good dose of microbial activity.

In a few weeks the night time temperatures will stay well above the freezing point and planting can begin.

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