by Connie Oswald Stofko
It was well into June when I finally turned my attention to the window boxes on my front porch, which is the main point of interest in my plain front yard.
It seemed like every other gardener in Western New York had their pots of annuals out already, and I felt like I was running behind.
But what I learned was that waiting until June to go to your local garden center can work to your advantage. There are still plenty of annuals available and, with the late-May frenzy over, the staff has plenty of time to work with you.
Even though I write about gardening, I’m not an expert gardener, and I love to get advice from people who know more than I do. I stopped into Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville.
I had a general idea of what I wanted. I wanted to create a thriller-filler-spiller container. A thriller is a tall, upright plant; the fillers are plants of medium size, and the spiller cascades over the edge of the pot.
I also wanted to make sure I bought the right number of plants. In the past, I’ve been too skimpy with flowers and my containers look sad. Before I left my house, I measured my window boxes.
At Mischler’s, I talked to Mark Yadon, vice president, and told him what I was trying to do with my flower boxes. He pointed me to some petunias that would make good filler plants. My husband loves petunias, so that was a plant I already had in mind. I liked a light purple and a dark purple.
So far, so good, but the thriller and spiller plants were the ones that were stumping me.
For the thriller, I knew I didn’t want anything too tall. My husband and I sit on the porch and like to chat with people who walk by, so I didn’t want something that would block our view. Yadon showed me some cheery yellow osteospermum daisies. Perfect. They would look great with the light and dark purple petunias.
Then I noticed some petunias with bi-colored flowers in white and purple that I liked even better than the ones we had already looked at. I was ready to get those instead.
Oh, no, Yadon said. That’s a different variety of petunia that has a different growing habit. If I tried to put that in my window box, he told me, it would get bigger than the osteospurmum daisies that were supposed to be my tall plant.
For the spiller, he showed me a plant called dichondra ‘Silver Falls’ and said I should get two small pots for each window box.
I wrinkled my nose at the few vines hanging out of the small pot. That couldn’t possibly be enough, I said.
Yadon showed me a trick. Take a stem of the vine and lay it across the soil in the window box, burying a bit of the stem every few inches. It will root in the soil and send down more cascades.
That was great advice that I didn’t even know I needed!
Yadon said that I wouldn’t get the instant impact with the dichondra that I got with the osteospermum daisies and the petunias, but if I was willing to wait a little, it would look great. After only a few days, it was starting to fill out and look great.
Although I was shopping for annuals, now is also a good time to shop for perennials, too. You can see plants that are flowering now that you may have overlooked earlier in the season.
And now that the crowds have thinned, stop into your local garden center and ask general questions. You might get advice you didn’t even know you needed.