A good way to start is to purchase a matching set of various sized containers ranging from three, five, or seven in total. Five containers used on a corner of a patio will help define your entertainment space. This grouped display can both provide privacy and help tie in your overall outdoor living area if you plant the same plant types throughout your property. Don't be afraid of using bright and vivid containers such as oranges, iridescent blues, and reds. These colors jump out at you and help liven up your outdoor space.
Don't be afraid to combine different plants such as annuals, tropicals, perennials, trees, shrubs, vines, and vegetables. Tropical vines will provide a unique vertical effect by growing upright to give you height with flowers bursting outward facing you. Tropicals such as Mandevilla and Allamanda flower all summer.
My grandfather started growing these tropicals in his St. Thomas gardens 50 years ago and it has taken 25 years to finally be able to find these plants at your local garden center. There are some phenomenal tropical Clerodendrum vines that can add a lot of color to your displays. Just ask your local garden center to stock them.
You can surround these pots with Elephant Ears planted in the ground. By August, you will have a dramatic display of 3'-4' towering leaves enveloping your pots.
Creating a container display is easy. Don't get bogged down on a particular design or picking out particular plants. Since many of us are so busy, it's hard to relax and let our ideas flow. Whatever each of us creates is beautiful, especially since each and every plant offers us that beauty.
Since tropicals don't like temperatures below 50oF, bring them indoors and provide them with less water and light over the winter. Many plants benefit from a rest period ranging between one and four months. When spring arrives, prune these vines back and instead of starting out with a young plant, you have a 2-year old or older, mature plant that will give you a lot more flowers.
- These plants will be maintained in a dormant or semi-dormant state.
- Water sparingly to keep them on the dry side watering only every 3-5 weeks to keep the roots from drying out.
- These plants are kept actively growing in the warmth of the house. They may continue to bloom throughout the winter.
- Keep them in a bright window
- Water when the upper 2 inches of the soil becomes dry. Do not over-water.
- Mist the foliage twice a week or so to maintain humidity around the plant.
- Feed once a month with a half strength dose of soluble fertilizer at every fourth watering.
More information on overwintering tropicals.