Why you should plant perennials in containers, plus 4 tips

container with perennials
Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Marie and Jerry Wysocki of Hamburg, who shared their landscape on Open Gardens last year, are planting more and more perennials in containers.

One reason is that you can save money, Marie said. The perennials can winter over in the container and bloom again the next year, so you don’t have to buy as many annuals.

The container in the photo holds three perennials: a euonymus (not visible), a short salvia and a hosta. There are only two annuals: the tall ‘Black & Bloom’ salvia and a geranium that had no flowers yet.

Another reason to plant perennials in containers is because you can move the perennials around.

That helps when plants aren’t doing well. For example, Marie noticed that her hibiscus plants bloomed much later than those of other gardeners, so she moved them around to find a better spot.

To make her landscape look better for visitors on Open Gardens, Marie temporarily moved some pots of sun-loving plants into shadier areas to add some color.

“And it’s nice to change things around,” she said.

Here are three tips from Marie for planting in containers:

  1. If your pot is large, use a dolly to move it.
  2. To make your container lighter, fill the container halfway with packing peanuts or pool noodles (cut up the pool noodles). Then fill the other half of the container with potting medium. (Make sure you have enough potting medium to accommodate the roots of your plants.)
  3. Have plenty of drainage holes in the bottom of your containers.
  4. To overwinter her potted perennials, Marie tips her pots on their side, but the whiskey barrels, like the one in the photo, are too large to tip. Instead, she places blue spruce branches from her neighbor’s large tree on top of the barrel. The branches keep most of the snow out of the barrel, so she hasn’t had a problem with the freeze and thaw cycle. “My barrels have done phenomenal,” she said.

10 Comments on “Why you should plant perennials in containers, plus 4 tips

  1. Pat, you don’t have to replace the soil every year. As Terry noted below, she adds some compost on top of the soil in spring when she adds annuals.

  2. When you use plants and keep the perineal over the winter do you ever have to get rid of the old soil and put in new.if you don’t have to do it yearly how often does the soil have to be changed?

  3. I am using pots more often now because there is no weeding! I like the portability too. Good idea to use pool noodles. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I have been using perennials in pots for years. I don’t bother to tip them or put branches on them and they come through just fine (they are hard-fired Vietnamese pots meant to withstand the winter). I top them off with compost and add a couple annuals in the spring.

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