Perennials have a more robust root structure than annuals, so using a pot that is large enough is important. Be sure to select plants that fit your pot, specifically, don't plant a butterfly bush which grows much too large to safely be planted in all but a gigantic pot.
Give me Some Dirt
The next ingredient is the soil. We sell the potting mix that we've been using here at Woodbridge for many years. It provides plenty of the nutrients your plants need to thrive. If your pot is very large, plant it in the place where you want to keep it before you fill it with soil and plants.
Start by selecting a taller plant for the back of the pot. Tall ornamental grasses will provide eye-catching height and movement. (Low-growing grasses planted near the rim will soften the edge.) Hostas come in all sorts of shapes, colors and sizes.
While the flowers are the focal point, they are short-lived, so be sure to select plants with attractive foliage. Start by selecting perennials with nice foliage and a variety of textures. Some of our favorites include: astilbe, coral-bells, day lilies, peonies, phlox and even dwarf evergreens. Also, herbs such as sweet basil and chives are tasty additions.
By choosing plants that flower at different times, you will ensure that your container is a colorful accent to your yard all season. Be sure to avoid plants whose foliage die back after flowering, such as tulips, crocus, Bleeding Heart, primroses and Oriental poppies. Strawberry plants are a lovely (and delicious) addition.
Potted perennials don't need as much care as annuals. Since they are generally hardier, they require less watering and fertilizer. We do recommend dividing your potted perennials after a few years, to give their roots more room and refresh the soil. (Although, for the past 6 years I've had a large pot of garlic chives that never found a permanent home. I never divided it and seldom fertilize it, and it's doing just fine.)
When I think of the first frost of the season, I recall the sickly appearance of my previously proud impatiens. Before the first frost arrives, protect your potted perennials from frost and dry winter winds by covering them with an old blanket or burlap. The fabric will block the wind, and allow precipitation through.
If you have the space and the muscle, you can relocate them indoors or move them into a garage. Avoid giving them too much warmth and sunlight which would deny them their annual dormant period.
A thick 5” layer of well-composted manure or pine bark mulch will protect potted perennials from freezing winter temperatures.
Once the chance of frost is passed, you can simply uncover and unmulch your potted perennials, give them a drink, watch for signs of new growth, and Enjoy!
Article compiled by Renee C. Brannigan