Gardening – Spring Container Ideas

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If You Want Long Lasting Color, Go For Pansies And Violas

By Ryan Vollmer, Journalist and Professional Gardener

For the past couple of years I’ve been planting a lot more pansies and violas in my spring pots than any other flower.  I love all the bulbs but they only bloom for about two, maybe three weeks. Pansies and violas, on the other hand, bloom and grow until it gets really hot, like 80 degrees!  They come in amazing colors.

By relying more on pansies and violas I can postpone putting summer flowers in my pots until mid-June  By then the summer flowers are much bigger than they would be if you bought them in May so you don’t have to buy as many.  Pansies and violas won’t die when it gets hot, but they won’t bloom either.  They’re strictly a spring/fall plant.  If you’re really ambitious, replant them in plastic pots, place them in a semi-shady spot in the yard, make sure they get watered, cut them back if they get leggy, fertilize them at the end of August and replant them in the fall.

I like to mix pansies and violas not only with a few bulbs but with branches of forsythia, ranunculus and osteospurmums, another wonderful flower that that isn’t that easy to find.  It looks like a daisy and comes in great spring colors.  It won’t bloom very much when it gets really hot, but the leaves stay presentable.  Sometimes I leave it in a pot all summer and just plant other flowers around it.  By the time fall comes, it starts blooming again.  Here are photos of some spring flower combinations I’ve had great success with.  If you use any flowering bulbs or ranunculus, once the flower dies, remove the entire plant and let the pansies/violas fill in.  Make sure to plant a lot of pansies and violas in and around the bulbs.



Gardening For Breast Cancer – Shade Container Recipes

Breast Cancer Gardening Shade Container

By Ryan Vollmer, Professional Gardener

Since the garden is always in flux, always changing, I’ve found a way to get some immediate gratification: container gardens.  I used to be obsessed with perennials.  Annuals meant impatiens, so boring.  Was I ever wrong.  There are so many amazing annuals.  I’m always discovering something new and wonderful.  Every summer I plant a number of containers because they look good immediately, I don’t have to worry about them and they are fun to create.   Through much trial and error I’ve learned how to put together sun and shade combinations that last through summer and fall.  A lot of annuals don’t last the whole summer, like petunias.  They look spectacular in May, but by August, they are leggy and funky, at least in zone 7.  But there are quite a few annuals that look spectacular and last until frost.  What follows are some recipes for containers that will give you months of color and no hassle.

Shade Container For Breast Cancer

Shade Container Recipe

Red Dragon Wing

Maidenhair Fern

Burgundy Coleus

Gardening For Breast Cancer Shade Container

Shade Container Recipe

Three Types of Coleus

Pink Begonias

Breast Cancer Gardening Shade Container

Shade Container Recipe


Non-Stop Begonias


 The begonias will fall apart at the end of
summer, but the caladiums will get bigger and hide the holes left by the begonias.

About Ryan Vollmer – For 25 years I worked as a journalist. I’ve written for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Daily News, Self, Ladies’ Home Journal, Psychology Today, San Francisco Chronicle and many other magazines and newspapers. I’ve also written travel books and advertising copy. In 2000 I turned a passion for gardening into a small business that specializes in containers and perennial and annual gardens on Long Island. I grew up in San Diego and moved to New York 30 years ago.


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