There’s great power in porch flowers, y’all.
Last week, I finally planted flowers in the pots around my front porch. As fast as spring seemed to arrive, I waited and waited before filling my front porch containers. Our temperatures kept dipping into the thirties and forties every few days, and I didn’t want tender buds to suffer from cold weather or frost. (And I didn’t want to cover them.)
This doesn’t mean for the last three months I haven’t been torturing myself by visiting all the area nurseries, lusting over flats of red geraniums, drooling over pea green foliage, inhaling the perfume of already open rose blossoms. Because I have been. It’s part of my early spring survival plan.
One way or another, spring gardening—especially early spring gardening—teaches patience. You either wait to plant or you roll the dice and plant early. Often, planting early means replanting. (The nurseries fully support this, by the way.) Replant often enough and you probably learn to wait.
Anyway, the time finally arrived when I could actually select plants and fill containers. This means balance has been restored in my world. Whew.
For me, the power of porch flowers extends beyond curb appeal to garden therapy. I love everything about the process—planning, going to the nursery, selecting flowers and plants, preparing my pots, planting and watering and tending to them all season.
Seeing them grow and thrive invokes joy. Those with fragrance can lift my mood. I’m no psychologist or doctor, but I’m a believer in the health benefits of gardening.
Taking a little time to prep will benefit your porch flowers in the long run. And by the way, I use the term porch flowers generically. Maybe you have a front stoop or a back deck, a balcony, or a sunny windowsill. If you have a tin can, you can grow something dreamy for spring.
Here’s what I do:
- If the old potting soil in my containers is over a year old, I remove it and add all fresh mix. The nutrients tend to leach out over time.
- If the potting soil is last year’s, I remove half and add fresh, mixing it together. I also search through the soil for old roots (or nuts buried by squirrels), removing them.
- Add a scoop of Perlite to aid in soil aeration. Soggy, compact soil results in rotting roots. Boo.
I interrupt this post for a short comedy based on true events:
Me: I need to buy some Perlite.
John (confused and possibly concerned): You want Pearl Light? The beer?
Lots of our conversations go this way. LOL.
Thrillers, Fillers, Spillers
Do you follow the planting guideline of adding a thriller, filler, and spiller to each container? It’s a concept that results in full, balanced, and inspired containers.
Thrillers are plants that steal the show. Usually the thriller is the main plant in the container, the one that will grow the tallest. Examples of thrillers are salvia, guara, cosmos, and asters.
Fillers are mounding plants that fill in the space around the thriller. Begonias, gerbera daisies, petunias, and ageratum are happy fillers.
Spillers trail over the edge of the container. Potato vine, alyssum, trailing begonia, and nasturtium make great spillers.
Sometimes, I follow the thriller-filler-spiller method, but mostly I just plant what I like, adding texture and complimentary colors to each container. Since every plant thrills me, it works.
Also, most of my containers are lined together on the side of our porch steps. After the plants have had time to grow, the containers will work in combination to create one thriller-filler-spiller arrangement. The porch steps naturally add height to the overall arrangement and each plant spills into the next, if that makes sense. (I’ll update you on the appearance later in the summer.)
Meet a few of this year’s porch containers:
For the first container below, I paired a newly purchased marigold with last fall’s viola plant. Since I’m not quite ready to pull out my violas and pansies, this idea of old + new gives them additional bloom time. With the cool weather we’ve been having, they may survive all year. If not, I can pull the viola and add a summer bloomer later.
I also added a white euphorbia. Euphorbia adds both a filler and spiller look with its airy blossoms on delicate-looking foliage.
The thriller in this next container will be the fuchsia cockscomb. It will grow at least 12 inches tall. Lemon balm and euphorbia provide texture and aroma. While it doesn’t look like much today, tomorrow it will be a beauty.
Just imagine—the pink gerbera daisy and purple gomphrena will grow taller and wider. Euphorbia will dance around. Creeping Jenny will cover the soil and spill over the edge of the container.
What could be better than a little pig pot of ageratum? Since this is a small container, the ageratum serves as thriller, filler, and spiller. Mainly, I think it’s cute. (A gift from my SIL.)
You might remember my husband discovered this large container👇in our basement. Last year’s salvia didn’t survive our arctic winter. This year, I planted guara, ageratum, gomphrena, and potato vine. And, I dropped in a few African daisy seeds that may or may not grow. Can’t wait to see what a summer stunner this combination will grow into.
I could go on and on, but I’ll end this post now so you can run out and visit your local nursery.😘 It’s time to liven up your life with dreamy porch flowers. Even if you don’t have a porch.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
Lynn Watson-Crain says
Talya, I am still reading and enjoying your every post. I love to hear from people that I remember from Keiser. Your porch flowers will be beautiful, and I look forward to pictures of how they are doing!
Dorothy Johnson says
I forced myself to wait to plant anything in my front porch pots until after our two weeks in Navarre. But it was hard. I perched pots of Shasta Daisies in the two by the front door when I had a group over. Then just before we left, I transplanted them into pots on the back deck, along with a geranium and some petunias because we have automatic watering set up there. We’ll go home next Saturday and you can bet early next week, I’ll be at the nursery picking plants for the front pots. I love the planting ritual, too.