by Connie Oswald Stofko
Mischler’s 49-cent perennial sale starts this week, and today we’re going to talk about using perennials in containers. We’ll also show you a couple of easy-to-maintain flowers that attract pollinators for your garden beds.
The sale will be held from Friday, April 28 to Saturday, May 6 at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Download the list of available plants here.
For the best selection, go early in the sale. It can be crowded; find out where to park and get other tips for how to make the most of this sale in an article from a previous year. That article also tells you how to care for your plants after the sale.
More than 100 varieties of perennials will be sold in packs of four plants for $1.96 per four-pack. New items are indicated on the list.
Idea #1: Use perennials in containers
Use perennials in containers to provide interesting foliage.
“They’re cheap enough that you can use them like annuals,” said Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s. “And there’s a really good chance of over-wintering them.”
Sedums are a great choice. All of the sedums in the sale are the creeping groundcover type that will trail over the edge of the pot. They can be the “spiller” element to your container. (For interest in a container, you want a plant that will trail over the edge, which is your spiller; a tall, upright plant to be your “thriller,” and medium-size plants to be your “filler.”)
Sedums can provide texture and color. Sedum ‘Dragon’s Blood’ is red– See photos here. Sedum ‘Angelina’ is a lime-green-yellow and ‘Oracle’ has a blue tinge. There is also a new sedum mix at the sale.
You can mix your “foliage” plants with flowering annuals or flowering perennials. The photo from Ball Horticultural at the beginning of this article shows sedum ‘Oracle’ mixed with perennials.
If you want flowers right now, you could mix sedum with cold-tolerant annuals such as petunias, annual phlox, nemesia, diascia, and Osteospermum daisy. Find out more about these plants here. You can buy many types of cold-tolerant annuals at Mischler’s now, though they aren’t included in the sale.
For a shade container, try heuchera or coral bells. The plants have interesting leaves as well as flowers. There are four varieties of heuchera available in the sale, including the new ‘Fire Fly’.
Another plant you might use as foliage is juncus ‘Big Twister’.
“It’s a twisty thing– It’s pretty cool,” Yadon said. “It’s a rush; it looks like grass. It’s really good in containers.” You can see photos of ‘Big Twister’ here.
Bonus tip: Learn how to plant a three-season container of perennials that will take you from spring through summer and fall, maybe until Christmas.
Idea #2: Use natives in your garden
There are so many reasons to use native plants in your garden. They are generally easy to maintain. They attract pollinators (find out why this is important). And they can be pretty, too!
One plant that Yadon discussed was butterfly flower or asclepias tuberosa. It was named Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association and was recommended by Master Gardeners in the March issue of WNY Gardening Matters.
It has been called butterfly weed, but people were hesitant to plant something that is called a weed.
“It’s not a weed, it’s a native plant,” Yadon said. “They kind of changed the name to flower in the past two or three years.”
It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. And if you don’t like watering plants all the time, you’ll like butterfly flower. It’s drought tolerant. Oh, and it’s deer resistant.
Butterfly flower likes sun and gets 18 to 24 inches high.
Another flowering perennial that I keep hearing about is agastache, commonly known as hissop. This plant is also drought-tolerant and attracts pollinators including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
“It’s just an awesome bee-friendly plant,” Yadon said. “They’re all over that thing.”
It blooms almost all summer long.
Mischler’s has three varieties of agastache Arizona. ‘Sun’ is yellow, ‘Sunset’ is pink and purple and ‘Sandstone’ is orange.
Bonus tip: At Mischler’s 49-cent perennial sale, you can also get herbs including tarragon, thyme, oregano and parsley, both curly and flat.