Summer Pots

10 Jul

We spent far more on “summer color” for the deck this year than we probably should have, especially with the construction going on around here this summer, but really, I’ve been enjoying it. In particular, we got quite a few good hummingbird plants, even though having the construction stuff on the deck in the middle of it all kind of drove a few hummers off that we had in the spring. Poor Mike, apparently as he was working outside, he’d get dive bombed and buzzed by the occasional
hummer looking for food, lol.

All in all though, I like how the pots turned out this year. I got a bunch of blue annual lobelia, Lobelia erinus. I love how having them scattered around kind of ties everything together. I did get some mixed ones, and some that were white with blue throats and edges. The pink and purple shades I could mostly do without… But the white and blue ones are kind of nice in a red places.

Another annual we got we hadn’t grown for a while is the Schizanthus pinnatus, in mixed colors. This was one of my Mom’s favorites, and I must say I’ve really been enjoying them, particularly in the hanging baskets with the blue lobelia.

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Isn’t that lovely? The lighter pink ones with the blue are almost as nice. I’ll have to look for them again next spring. This was one six pack, but I think a little more to spread around would have been nice.

Salvia coccinea has been one I look for each spring, since its reliably good at attracting hummers. This year I tried growing some from seed, with mixed results. I had scattered seed of the variety ‘Forest Fire’ directly into the pot with the Befonia boliviensis ‘Bonfire’ and a lemon verbena last summer, and several of those sprouted.

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That is one of the seedlings I carefully transplanted to use as an annual in a mixed pot. The big one in the begonia pot is a little off at the moment, lol, but give it a break. It’s been blooming steadily since almost New Years in that pot. Oddly, it’s growing almost as much sideways as up. I kind of like the trailing habit, actually, and the hummers on the back deck have certainly been enjoying it!

Early in spring I found, in bloom, six packs of ‘Snow Nymph’, a white variety that tends to stay rather compact. I thought why not? Lets try it!

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I honestly have to say I’m a little disappointed. They do stay dwarf, maybe because of our cool spring and flip flop weather this summer, they are almost too dwarf. Several are barely flowering at all, and I’ve only seen sporadic use by the hummers, less than most of the other salvias I have, and less than makes them worth growing. I do like the white color though, so maybe I can find some seedlings that are taller at some point or something, I dunno.

Speaking of taller coccineas, I did get seed from a member on the hummingbird forum for a taller variety she grows.

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As you can see, these are still small plants. I don’t think they are gonna get that big this summer, lol. Maybe like others have said on the forum, I should focus on other hardier salvias, and other plants I know do well to attract hummers. Thing is, I like Salvia coccinea in general, and it is easy to grow. With lots of other hummer plants in the garden, it’s not a top tier favorite… But then again, it IS used, and is an easy to grow plant for the money. Now if I can just get good at growing out seedlings, I could save my own, lol.

Speaking of saving seeds, I really should try and save seeds from the ‘Alaska’ nasturtiums. This heirloom variety has nice speckled white foliage. Most of mine came in yellow orange, though I do have one interesting coral pink one. I keep getting seeds of these to plant, but really I should save the seeds of the ones that grow the best that I like the colors of. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind just saving the bright orange ones with the darker nectar guides!

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Along with Salvia coccinea, I got a couple of tender to half hardy salvias. The prettiest of the bunch is the only one I have NOT seen a hummer use, lol. Salvia patens ‘Cobalt’ is an incredible clear blue-

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Growing in the same pot with the taller of the Cuphea ignea varieties, and a spectacular Senecio confuses with fluorescent orange daisies, this whole pot may come inside for the winter. I love all three. Even if it doesn’t attract hummers, the funky shaped, bright blue flowers are stunning. The Cuphea gets more attention from the hummers of course.

I have several Cupheas this year- two forms of Cuphea ignea, two forms of Cuphea llavea (‘Tiny Mice’ and ‘Flamenco Samba’), plus Cuphea (Cyanea?) ‘Carribean Sunset’. All of them have, at one point or another attracted some hummer usage. The two forms of C. ignea seem to be the most attractive to the hummers. Caribean Sunset is in with a flowering maple, vaguely labeled as “Abutilon hybrid” though the plant and flowers look like straight Abutilon megapotamicum. That pot may also be brought in to overwinter, since for one the parlor maple should bloom through the winter inside, and I find the flowers bizarrely beautiful.

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You can also see in the corner of this pot a bright magenta plume of Celosia ‘New Look’. It’s been forever since I’ve grown these amaranths, but I’ve really been enjoying them. This one had blushed purple foliage when I planted it, though that has faded somewhat in this pot.

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This pot, with Lantana camara ‘Lamdmark Peach Sunrise’, a purple under leafed Plectranthus ‘Velvet Elvis’, and a few others not blooming has been better at holding that color. This is another pot I want to bring in, as both the lantana and the Plectranthus should overwinter.

One plant that has overwintered the last few is this beautiful dark leaved Dahlia-

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I either list the tag or never had the name for it, I just remember that the first year it stayed nice and dwarf, never getting over two feet. This year, it’s third summer, I transplanted it into. Much larger pot, and it is now pushing four feet, and with lots more flowers. Best yet, I’ve seen hummers on it a couple of times! Granted, I’m pretty sure they were juveniles, who will visit almost anything, but they must like it well enough to come back. And visit multiple flowers, not just one. It’s a keeper!

Another pot overwintered was this standard fuchsia-

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It’s back on the same corner of the deck as last year. Overwintering was a pain though. First it went in the basement, no light, where it dropped all its leaves and dried out probably a little more than it wants to. The Oxalis in the base too, completely went dormant. I think it was in January I took pity on it and brought it up into the living room where it got good light, an occasional watering, and perked right up. It was flowering by the time I took it back outside, but the cool spring stopped bud formation for another month or two. It didn’t really start going till we had that week long hotspell with days in the upper 80s and lower 90s. Now it looks spectacular, though I haven’t seen much hummer use this year, unlike last year when it was a favorite. Oh, and I now have cuttings of this one scattered through out the garden, lol, in hanging baskets (where it is still not blooming) and in the ground. If it proves hardy, I may grow more of it. If not, I’m not sure what will happen. This standard really needs to be reported next spring. The soil has to be tired, and I am sure it’s now way over pot bound. It’s beautiful this year though!

Something we tried this year that has sort of worked was to put lettuce starts in with some of the pots. I say this has sort of worked, because in reality, we tend to forget they are there. One of them is bolting now, lol. They have grown well though, and we have eaten a salad or two from them, but in general we tend to forget they are there when we are hungry. Other herbs like the mints, sorrel and parsley we do better with.

I do need to get some fertilizer for these guys in general, and break out the shears to cut back the spring an early summer spikes turning to seed heads. Hopefully that, and a return of the sun, will get things blooming better again.

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