Did a little transitioning of planters from spring to summer yesterday — I pulled some fading stock and replaced it with lush trailing petunias, and I added a tropical to the main planter, bougainvillea.
People in our zone often don’t realize they can include tropicals in planters, but they work really well — you just have to plan to pull it at the end of the season (you might even plant it *in* its pot to make that easier, though that will also constrain its size, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on what you’re going for) and bring it indoors for the winter.
Mandevilla (pink, white, red, peach, yellow) is a classic tropical that’s easy to find all over the place, often already trained to a trellis for height, and I’ve used it before to good effect. It’s tough, and easy to grow and overwinter.
Other options you could try might include jasmine (especially nice if you have a planter near a walkway so passersby can enjoy the scent), duranta (a tropical with gorgeous purple flowers and bright orange berries), Mexican bluebells (ruellia), or a stand of cannas.
I’m trying something new this year, bougainvillea, which is my favorite tropical — in Sri Lanka, it grows wildly over homes all over, and whenever I see it, it transports me back to my grandmother’s house. Interestingly, the ‘flowers’ (easy to find red, bright pink, pale pink, also in white, purple, peach, and orange) aren’t actually flowers — they’re bracts, and the tiny white flowers are inside the bracts.
It came on a simple trellis of three canes, but I’m probably going to get a metal trellis for it, which will involve untwining from the one it came with, possibly cutting the canes to get them out, and then retraining it to the metal. Bougainvillea can get very big even here, if it’s happy, and I want to give this one a little more room to gain height over the summer.
It’s planted with dianthus (which came back from last year!), lobelia in both blue and pale purple, verbena that grades from white to purple, and some fading pansies that probably won’t last much longer once the heat arrives.
I’m going to neaten this area up a bit (a few weeds have snuck in there), and then it’ll be all set for the next three months of summer.