Planting spring flower containers

Spring doesn’t suddenly burst into bloom just because the calendar says it’s March. In our Mountain Area during a normal year, winter can linger into May, interspersed with warmer temperatures like an Indian Summer. No matter how you garden, planting up containers that say “spring” is fun and easy if you know what plants to use.

When selecting flowers for spring containers, one way is to see what survives in a neighbor’s garden or around town in community plantings. That’s how it was discovered that Pincushion flower, Scabiosa, Cup flower, Nierenbergia, and Swan River Daisy, and Brachyscome, thrive in the midst of winter here.

Besides the well-loved pansies and spring-flowering bulbs, many annuals, perennials, and even small shrubs and trees can be used effectively as well.

Additional annuals and perennials a gardner should know include snapdragon, sweet peas, forget-me-not, rose mallow, sweet alyssum, primrose, calendula, and dianthus, pansy, stock, viola, spiraea, bleeding hearts, daylily, sage, and any herbs.

Recycled containers from garage sales and flea markets add personality to a patio or deck garden. My sugestions included old wooden boxes or crates, plastic-lined baskets, wheelbarrows, galvanized tubs, old mop and bait buckets, toy trucks, old boots, tool boxes, and old birdcages.

Annuals and tender perennials

Annuals and tender perennials that can handle some frost, such as Osteospermums, Marguerite daisies, Nemesias, Twinspurs, and African daisies, perform very well in containers in cool weather. These colorful and long-blooming plants come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and combine easily with other plants to enhance container combinations.

Many cool season plants bloom twice a year - spring and fall. With proper feeding and deadheading, the tougher plants, like the Marguerite and African daisies, will continue blooming into fall. When the hot weather strikes, the osteospermums will stop blooming and grow bushy, setting new buds for autumn blooms.

Fairy and miniature gardens

Creating miniature gardens is just fun. They can be for indoors or out and use accessories and figurines like fairies, gnomes and even dinosaurs. Succulents can be grown in shallow containers that impart a Zen, peaceful mood. Large glass containers, fishbowls, old aquariums or canisters can be used for terrariums, lasting for months without watering.

NOTE: Sue Langly is a former member, and past president of the Oakhurst Mountain Laurel Garden Club. She has a blog, Sierra Foothill Garden, a website,, and gardening questions may be sent to her at