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The containers on my side porch are in their full glory on this mid-summer afternoon!
051Can you tell I love big splashes of color?  In a square pot sitting on the top step, I have combined Portulaca grandiflora ‘Mojave Yellow’ and ‘Tangerine’ (purslane) with Scaveola ‘Whirlwind Blue’, Lantana camara ‘Bandana Red’, and Snapdragon ‘Montego Yellow.’

Purslane makes an excellent spiller.  It is bright, survives sporadic watering, and self-sheds its spent inch-wide flowers.  It pumps out blossoms all summer long.  Its only drawback is it stays closed on cloudy days.  In my pot, the yellow has far overshadowed the tangerine, but both are lovely. Next year I will limit myself to one per pot!022Both purslane combine well with the ‘Bandana Red’ Lantana.  The flowers on this plant open yellow and pale orange, but quickly deepen to dark red-orange as they mature.  Like the purslane, Lantana’s water needs are fairly low.  I do have to deadhead, and it sometimes has dark periods with no blooms at all.  033The yellow ‘Montego’ snapdragon in the center of this pot is another plant which can have extended dark periods, but right now it is blooming to beat the band!  There are enough other flowers blooming here that even when the snapdragon is not blooming, its color is not missed.063 Scaveola (fan flower) is a good trailer, winding its way onto the deck and weaving itself through the other flowers, with many stems extending eighteen inches.  108It also tolerates fairly dry conditions and does not require deadheading.  Though this is named ‘Whirlwind Blue’, I consider it purple, and I chose it to contrast with the yellows and oranges that predominate this container:021Cascading Calibrachoa hybrida ‘Noa Dark Pink Carnival’ is the undisputed star of the pot one level up.  It prefers somewhat dry soil, sometimes suffering root rot if it stays too wet for too long.  Its flowers are large, about an inch and a half wide, looking like mini-petunias, and this variety features a creamy yellow throat.  It blooms endlessly and self sheds its dead blossoms.087The “thriller” in this pot is the ever cheery Argyranthemum frutescens ‘Butterfly’ Marguerite Daisy.105  This plant has bloomed prolifically from the day I brought it home.  It needs to be deadheaded frequently, but there is always a plethora of buds waiting their turn.  One of my favorite container plants, the Marguerite Daisy is invaluable for the height of 18 inches it adds to the mix.051 - CopyAnother Snapdragon ‘Montego Yellow’, Petunia grandiflora ‘Bravo Blue Veined’, and Heliotrope ‘Fragrant Delight’ fill the rest of this pot.  As noted earlier, the snapdragon’s color comes and goes.  The ‘Bravo’ Petunia is one of my favorites; it is a great performer with large, blue-violet flowers, and it withstands heat, humidity, and somewhat dry conditions well.  It is supposed to have a mounded habit, but in the crowded conditions of these containers, it tends to grow tall rather than bushy.  It needs to be deadheaded a couple of times a week to keep the blooms coming.  As for the Heliotrope, it was showy at the beginning of the summer, but its original large, flat flower heads are now dying, and the new buds are coming slowly.  I think it is unhappy competing with so much else in the pot.  Its flowers smell sweet, somewhat like vanilla essence.

The third pot in this little group contains some mild disappointments.  African daisies Osteospermum hybrid ‘Lemon Symphony’ and ‘Orange Symphony’ looked so promising, but I find them slow to re-bloom after deadheading, and they close at night and on cloudy days.  090In the pots, they trail a bit; I’m not sure it they would do that in a garden where they had more room.  I wish I would see more of their lovely, violet-eyed blooms!013The spiller in this pot is Bacopa sutera ‘Scopia Great Purple’.  It is lovely when it blooms, and it sheds its spent blossoms itself.  However, it is not the non-stop powerhouse bloomer the reviews I read led me to expect.  I am not sure I will choose it again.055The star of this pot is the Lantana camara ‘Bandana Pink’, featuring flowers that start out pale pink and yellow, and change to dark fuchsia as they mature.031You can see that there is a final pot in the back of this group which features a very happy SunPatiens ‘Spreading Pink Flash’.  SunPatiens are a cross between New Guinea Impatiens and a wild variety, and, as their name suggests, are tolerant of bright sun and heat.  Mine gets a fair bit of sun, but not full-on, all-day-long exposure.  I keep the soil fairly moist, but not drenched.  083The SunPatiens shares its pot with a common, shade loving, lavender Impatiens and two large coleuses, both descendants from plants of years past.038At the other corner of the porch, two window boxes each contain Nasturtium ‘Jewel Mix’, Marigold ‘Hero Yellow’, Petunia ‘Bravo Blue Veined’, Petunia ‘Sweetunia Johnny Flame’, and Snapdragon ‘Montego Violet.’057The marigolds and nasturtiums are replacements for Petunia ‘Celebrity Yellow’, which inexpicably withered and died within a few weeks of planting.  Luckily, its substitutes have not met the same fate; in fact, the nasturtiums are thriving here! 025Orange is not a color I have used much of in the past; I’m learning this year that I like it!

I absolutely love this ‘Sweetunia Johnny Flame’ Petunia!  It is constantly covered with it velvet-like, rich burgundy blooms, and it has grown into a large, semi-trailing mound both in the window box and the larger pot behind it.  It also matches Snapdragon ‘Montego Violet’ almost exactly!  I will definitely look for this flower again.096Petunia ‘Bravo Blue Veined’ is the one constant on my porch, occurring again in the pot nearest the corner post.  098It accompanies ‘Plush Deep Pink Petunia’, a nicely branched, prolific bloomer, and Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’.  I chose the Angelonia for its height, but I lost that feature once the initial blooms died off and I trimmed it back.  Subsequent shoots are blooming well, but they aren’t as tall as I would like.  Lime green Sweet Potato Vine, Ipomoea batatas ‘Margarita’ spills nicely over the edge and is a lovely accent to the ‘Johnny Flame’ Petunias.  I think a pot of ‘Johnny Flame’ and ‘Margarita’ would be stunning by itself!057 - CopyIt may seem like all of these containers require a lot of work, but all they need is a good watering every two or three days (I soak them with the hose, so it’s not very hard!), a sprinkling of a slow-release fertilizer once a month, and some regular deadheading.  It’s really very little work in return for such an over-the-top, exuberant show!