Container Report Fall 2023

Phormium ‘Sundowner’ makes a great vertical feature when combined with succulents. This container had about 4-6 hours of sun, (it could have used more!) but still looks pretty fantastic. There was one casualty in the group: Echeveria ‘Afterglow’ didn’t last for long.

It is now mid October, and after a rather warm and wet September, we are being treated to a nice lingering early autumn with no frost in the forecast (fingers crossed). After so many dry summer seasons, I don’t think many gardeners here in the northeast were expecting to get so much rain this year! Foliar Fungal diseases made themselves known, but I found it interesting that our succulent combinations did so well (the key is be sure you use a succulent soil mix).

The tall cylinder urn across from the parking area gets full day sun and the succulents grew well, but the tall Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’, which added height, died sometime in early summer. The iron fiddleheads came in handy to give a little elevation.

Perhaps this rectangle terra cotta planter could have used more sun. The crassula muscosa sort of melted by September.

Echeveria ‘Lucita’ which sat in a spot receiving only morning sun, filled this Apulia bowl from Campania. This Echeveria is generous with offsets.

Bouteloua ‘Blonde Ambition’, with Lantana montevidensis (just an outstanding plant!) carried this 36″ long rectangular planter. Erigeron karvinskianus ‘Profusion’ got overwhelmed, and the annual Orlaya gave off a few white umbels and then petered out.

Think house plants for shady planters. Begonia ‘Raspberry Truffle’ is complemented by the variegated Goldfish Plant, Nematanthus ‘Golden West’ and Rhipsalis baccifera. We use mini white pumpkins to add a little fall pizazz.

The 36″ diameter Zen bowl was sited in a tough spot where it only received a couple of hours of mid afternoon sun. The Colocasia didn’t mind, nor did the Pilea microphylla (Artillery fern) and variegated Bermuda Grass, both of which overwhelmed the black leaved Geogenanthus and even the dwarf variegated Papyrus. I thought this combination of black and white variegated foliage would be more exciting….maybe it needed an urban setting and not a shady gravel area in front of an old farmhouse.

These urns are also getting more shade than sun. The yellow form of Begonia boliviensis is just not as vigorous as the more common orange form, but it still did okay. The pinky variegated Ficus is slow growing…it took all summer to grow up. Still, with Ming Fern, Oxalis spiralis aurea and Heuchera ‘Southern Comfort’ as supporting players, this combo passes the test.

The left shot was taken in late July, the right image is from a few days ago. Cordyline ‘Mocha Latte’ shot up a bit , and the Flowering Maple, Abutilon ‘Harvest Moon’ went through blossoming spurts all summer. Heuchera ‘Southern Comfort’ had better color when it received more sun earlier i the season. Oxalis spiralis ‘Aurea’ does well in so many different conditions.

Maybe it was the weather we had this year, but the Petunia ‘Mocha Latte’ was a bit of a dud by August, despite being fertilized regularly. The ensemble was relying on a constant show of white blossoms etched with chocolatey purple. One Petunia just completely died, so we tucked in a black raven statue to fill in the hole.

I realize now that the placement of these urns needs to be rethought. They are now getting much more shade than a few years ago. The combination of succulents and Elaeagnus x ebbingei would have been more impressive if it received more sun.

As I mentioned in the June report, the goal each season is to have containers that hold up throughout the season without a lot of fuss and bother. All things considered, (lots of wet and overcast weather, less time maintaining and fussing) the planters still look pretty good, and they have inspired me to do variations in 2024.

How did your containers hold up? Did you have any combos you  were especially happy with?

7 thoughts on “Container Report Fall 2023”

  1. Your yellow form of Begonia boliviensis looks great, at least better than my orange form (that doesn’t seem to like the heat of DC). Is the yellow form more heat tolerant?

  2. Your comment on Euphorbia in the first photo made me remember that all those I had tried never made it. Is Euphorbia a short-lived perennial? I am still learning! Love all your ideas and photos & hope to get to Dartmouth before you close for the season.

  3. This is my second year growing salvia microphyla “So Cool Pale Blue” in my containers. A beautiful sky blue (tending toward the violet end of the spectrum) that I haven’t seen on any other salvia, and it’s still in blossom. Does not take over the whole container like some other salvias, e.g., ‘Amistad’ (which is also terrific if you have the space).

  4. This is the third year for senecio ‘Angels wings’ planted with Persicaria ‘Red Dragon’ in a 30 cm square tall pot. They go under a table in a corner of the house walls over winter, if it is very cold I put a blanket over it. The senecio has grown a big trunk, the persicaria flowers every year. I tuck one or two other seedlings in in spring, self sown feverfew dug up and transplanted, maybe a coleus or s. ‘Silverdust’ which also self seeds. I originally had four planters all the same, one died but the rest look good for another year.

    I am in Oxford UK

  5. Niobe, I need to try Seneceio ‘Angel Wings’ again. I grew it a couple of years ago and it performed miserably. I attributed it to our muggy humid summer weather, as it did fine in the spring. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Just joined your blog. Love what I’m seeing, especially the unusual pots and succulents. Appreciate you sharing details about eh growing conditions.

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