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Is your landscape feeling drab this Spring? An easy way to add more color and texture is with seasonal flowers, or annuals. They will add color and character to any bare spot in your landscape. A grouping of pots or containers at your front entrance of your home, rear patio, or outdoor entertainment space gives each space a unique, colorful touch. It can be overwhelming walking into your local green house…which flowers to pick? Which are right for my space? What colors go together? How do I arrange them in my container? We are happy to help you create beautiful container gardens for your home.

When should I plant my annual flowers?

Here in Northern Michigan, our rule is usually no planting before Mother’s Day! Depending on your location, you may be able to plant a bit sooner. It is important to consider the ground temperatures, temperatures at night, and rainfall. Heavy rainfall can drown out young annuals quickly. Try not to be seduced by the flats upon flats of annuals soon to be appearing at your local stores. While they look healthy in the store, it is way too soon to plant in the ground or even in a planter! A good tell if it is time to plant is to look at your perennial plants-Hosta for example- if they have not really started to grow yet, it is probably too early to plant your annuals. If you are looking for some annuals that can tolerate the colder temperatures in early Spring, check out this blog.

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How do I know which plant will do well in my yard?

You may have heard this before pertaining to perennial or herbaceous plants, however, the same rule applies to annual plants. There are plants made for full sun, part sun, or full shade, as well as plants that are drought-tolerant, and plants that require consistent watering. So, be sure to assess the location you wish to spruce up and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the plants you chose before bringing them home. Check out this blog to see some of our favorite annuals that will thrive in Northern Michigan.

How should I arrange my plants in the container?

To explain this, lets paint a picture. You have a large round planter you wish to place in the corner of your paver patio. When designing your planter, start from the inside out. The thriller, should be the center of the planter and tallest in height. Next, the filler, shorter than the thriller, but still should contain some height along with a “bushing” effect. The filler will void the gap between the thriller and the spiller. The spiller does exactly what you’re probably thinking, it spills out of your planter, draping over the edges.

thriller filler spiller graphic

Thriller, Filler, Spiller Plant suggestions for shady areas Thriller, Filler, Spiller Plant suggestions for sunny areas
Thriller Astilbe, Foxglove (Digitalis), Coleus Thriller Ornamental grasses, cannas, cleome, hibiscus, geranium
Filler Impatients, hosta, clown plant, begonia, browallia Filler Euphorbia Diamond Fronst, Lantana, Osteospermum
Spiller Coral Bells, Fuschia, Ivy Spiller Petunia, Calibrachoa, Sweet Potato Vine, Verbena

planting layout

How should I space out my plants? Should they be in lines?

When you’re planting annuals in your garden, consider planting your seasonal flowers in groupings to maximize the show off the flower, rather than lining them up like soldiers along the planting bed edge. We suggest triangle spacing in groupings, versus squared spacing. This is going to give you more character and diversity in your planting, giving the eye something different to look at as you scan over your plantings.

What colors go well together? Do I have to use all one color for each container?

Don’t be afraid to plant a red begonia next to a yellow wave petunia. Add a massing of contrasting and complimentary colors so they stand out with your landscape or against other seasonal flowers. Annual flowers only last one season, so you only have a few months to enjoy them and the vibrant color they add to your landscape. The variety of seasonal flowers and colors may be overwhelming when you first walk in a greenhouse to select your flowers. However, to make it less overwhelming, we might suggest you go into the greenhouse with a plan of the colors you might like to use that will complement each other and your landscape. The temptation to buy one of everything is very strong when you’ve spent six months of shoveling show and creating a grand plan for your yard. However, too much variety of colors may serve to confuse the eye and distract from your landscape. Feel free to mix colors and plant what you like!

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How do I make my container garden look unique?

The best way to accomplish a unique look is to select plants with a variety of textures. Annual plants can have fuzzy, shiny, pointy, round, thin, or thick leaves, stems, and petals. Mix it up! Seasonal planters are meant to stand out, so let them. People in greenhouses all over the world work tirelessly developing different varieties of every seasonal flower we have to give us the range we, as consumers, desire. Take advantage of their hard work. The wonderful thing about seasonal planters is if you don’t like it this year, you know what you don’t want to do again next year! So, don’t be afraid to choose plants that you find to be cute, crazy, unique, or different.

How do I take care of my plantings?

Be sure to keep all containers well-watered. Fertilize your plants following the fertilizer’s label directions. Most containers benefit from regular fertilization. Remember to deadhead and prune your plants. Some plants, like geranium and petunia, will produce more blooms faster if the old, dead blooms are removed. If the spiller plants get branches that are too long, you can prune or remove a ½ to 2/3 the total length of the stem and it will produce two to three new stems that grow more vigorously. Not all plants can be pruned, so make sure to research before you start cutting.

Selecting a Landscaping Company to Help with Your Container Garden Planting

If all of these steps have your head spinning, you are not alone! Many of our clients like to have our team plant their container gardens as a part of their maintenance program. Some clients like to have us select all the plants that we feel would look best in their space and others have certain plants they love and ask us to include.

We know that especially for our commercial clients, property managers do not have the time to select, transport, plant, and eventually dispose of annual flowers. Or as a busy homeowner with a second home in the Grand Traverse or Leelanau County area, you want to spend your time at your cottage relaxing, not running around town to find flowers and spending the weekend working to plant them.

Our landscape design team places an order with an annual nursery each year, so the quality of the annual flowers we get is much higher than that you find at a local hardware store like Home Depot. The nursery we purchase from takes careful care of the plants before they are delivered to us. While the flowers await installation on our property, they are watered with an irrigation system and covered with frost blankets if the temperature dips too low. These commercial annual flower suppliers also have a huge variety of colors and choices that you may not be able to find in a retail location.

If you do decide to plant your own annual flowers this year, we hope this guide points you in the right direction to have beautiful container gardens that you enjoy all season long!

Looking for some help with your annual flowers in Grand Traverse or Leelanau County, MI? If so, meet with our team of experts, choose a solution to improve your property, and get ready to sit back, relax, and enjoy your beautiful outdoor space.

Get started today with a consultation!

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