Garden Log 4/5/22

Swung by Home Depot yesterday and picked up some more pansies, plus ranunculus. I have a lot of planters to fill, so it’s going to be a little while before they’re all fully planted, but that’s okay — I kind of like doing it in stages in early spring, when everything is emerging bit by bit anyway.

Two quick tips for container planting:

a) Basic design recommends having three kinds of plants in your container: a thriller (something tall and dramatic, that you usually put in the center), a filler (a bunch of smaller plants to fill in), and spillers (plants that trail over the sides). You can do all kinds of variations, of course, there are no rules. But if you follow that guideline, it’ll make for a nicely full, professional-looking planter.

b) Remember that planters are likely to be season-dependent; there are very few flowering plants that can go from spring cool to summer heat to autumn cool again. Generally, you’ll need to plant in spring, then replant with heat-tolerant plants in summer, than replant again in autumn. So budget accordingly, and enjoy the excuse to have a change of scene in a few months.

When I was first gardening in a condo in Wicker Park, I bought ranunculus and then got really frustrated with my inability to keep them alive in June / July. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. I wasn’t doing anything wrong — it had just gotten too hot for them! Wish I’d figured that out years earlier…could have saved myself some grief.

Note that while pansies will wilt in summer heat, if you replant them in a shady spot, they may keep blooming, and even if they don’t, they’ll probably survive and come back strong in the fall. If they’re in a sheltered enough spot for winter, they might even come back from that; occasionally mine do. Pansies are tough!

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