(clockwise from top left) ‘Purple Daydream’ dwarf loropetalum, ‘Magic White Flame' mimulus, ‘Sunshine’ ligustrum, ‘Blushing Princess’ alyssum, and ‘Eversheen’ carex; photographs courtesy of (loropetalum) Southern Living Plant Collection, (mimulus) Les Serres Fortier, (ligustrum) Atlantic Avenue Orchid & Garden, & (alyssum) Proven Winners
October 19, 2016
A Cooler Container
This autumn, plant a striking display mixing evergreens and colorful annuals
written by Joan McDonald
We’ve all done it when autumn arrives: grabbed a couple mums, nestled them into pots by the front door, maybe added a pumpkin or two, and called our fall display complete. And there’s nothing wrong with going that easy, cheery route. However, if you’re willing to devote a little more energy to the project this season, you can design a planter for full sun that combines evergreens with annuals for beauty that lasts.
Start by selecting a container—about 14 inches high and 16 inches in diameter—that works with your home’s exterior. Add into it the bright yellow-leaved ‘Sunshine’ ligustrum (buy a one-gallon size). This noninvasive cultivar won’t reseed, and you can easily prune the evergreen branches into geometric shapes (like a cube, cone, or pyramid) if you’d like a more formal appearance.
To create a pleasing color contrast, look to the dark maroon foliage of ‘Purple Daydream’ dwarf loropetalum (select a one-gallon size). The compact, drought-tolerant shrub will set bright pink blooms in the spring. Then mix in the chartreuse-striped ‘Eversheen’ carex (a four-inch size) for a variation of texture and leaf pattern. It forms a tidy mound that requires very little maintenance but provides big visual impact.
Underplant this trifecta with coordinating annuals (four-inch sizes), letting the pot spill with the vigorous purple ‘Blushing Princess’ alyssum and ‘Magic White Flame’ mimulus. Look forward to choosing a new duo for spring.
When your evergreens outgrow the container (circa 2019), simply transplant them into the landscape, where you can enjoy them for years to come.