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Plant This Container Garden for Summer Sparkle

Like a Fourth of July sparkler, this combo is an explosion of textures that will brighten any area, especially when placed in front of evergreens or a dark background. This sun-loving combo needs little deadheading (pinching off dead blooms), blooms best when kept on the dry side, and will keep going from spring until frost. What more do you want?

The accent piece in this planting is the variegated flax lily, which blooms throughout the summer with delicate light blue flowers that dance over your arrangement during a gentle breeze. Trailing down the sides of your container will be the dark blue verbenas, whose thick clusters of flowers bring a bold color border. Filling in between the verbena and the flax lily are explosive bursts of white euphorbias and blasts of red from the geraniums. If you replace the euphorbias with baby's breath (Gypsophilia paniculata) or sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima 'Snow Princess™'), the 'Snow Princess' will drape more heavily than the euphorbias, so you will lose some of that "sparkler" effect.

When putting this container together, start by filling your large container (20 to 24 in. opening) about half full with potting soil. Next, gently loosen the soil around the roots of the variegated flax lily. Place the flax lily in the center of the container as shown in the diagram.

Add enough soil around the flax lily to fill the container to about 3 to 4 in. below the rim. Place the remaining plants as shown in the diagram, and add enough potting mix to fill in around the smaller plants. The tops of the rootballs of all the plants and soil should be about 1 in. below the rim of the planter. Water these easy-care plants only when the top 2 in. of soil are dry.

Flowering annuals are heavy feeders, so fertilize monthly throughout the growing season with a product that encourages flower blooming (one with a high percentage of phosphorus). You'll love the way the strong, thin stems of euphorbias wind their way through the other plants, echoing the white edge of the variegated flax lily. Good foliage contrasts between the big round leaves of the geraniums, the tall thick blades of the flax lily, the dainty oval euphorbia leaves and the finely serrated verbena give this combo interest way beyond its patriotic color palette.

Plant Options

If you have a hard time locating flax lily, look for either Cordyline australis 'Alberti' or ribbon grass Phalaris arundinacea 'Strawberries & Cream' as a substitute with green and white foliage. You won't get the delicate blue flowers with these other plants, but they will maintain the vertical impact. The geraniums can be replaced with Petunia 'Easy Wave Red' or Cuphea llavea 'Totally Tempted' to maintain that pop of red. You could easily replace the verbena with Calibrachoa Superbells® 'Trailing Blue' or Scaevola 'New Wonder®'.

TSC Summer Container Garden Supplies

  • Potting Soil
  • Container
  • Fertilize
  • 1 3 gal. sized variegated flax lily (Dianella tasmanica 'Variegata') A
  • 5 ivy geraniums (Pelargonium 'Freestyle® Ruby Red') B
  • 5 euphorbias (Euphorbia graminea 'Diamond Frost®') C
  • 3 verbenas (Verbena 'Lanai® Blue') D