For instant color in your Transition Zone garden, plant a whiskey barrel with beautiful flowers, or fill it with fresh herbs, fruits and veggies. It’s easy with advice from our Muddy Boots reporters, like Home Depot associate Ingar. Cynthia, a Muddy Boots reporter in Texas, also has tips for plants that can survive this region’s hot summers.
Ingar says, “Do you have that shady area where nothing seems to grow? Some of my favorite plants for the shade are Hosta ‘Elegans’, Hosta ‘Gold Standard’, and Hosta ‘Albomarginata’. Hostas come in all different shapes and colors, and because they can grow 1-2 feet tall, they would be a great centerpiece in your garden barrel arrangement.
“Heuchera, also known as Coral Bells, is also a great shade-loving perennial whose foliage can vary from deep purples to copper and even bright yellow. Its flowers put on quite a show. The foliage on Heuchera stays low to the ground, so if you’re using it in a barrel, place it toward the outside edges. Perennials may not bloom all spring and summer, like most annuals, but when plants like these have such great, beautiful foliage, who needs flowers? Other shade-loving, blooming perennials that would look great include Astilbe and Lobelia.
“If you are a gardener who needs flowers, impatiens and green-leaf begonias are great blooming annuals, available in pinks, purples, red, orange and white. Coleus and caladiums are two other annuals with brilliant foliage that look beautiful and tolerate shade. English Ivy or variegated Vinca major are good for trailing down the sides of your planter.
“Some great ideas for a barrel in a sunny spot are Loropetalum ‘Purple Pixie’ with Sweet Flag Grass, Pink ‘Wave’ petunias, and Alyssum. Another one of my favorite combinations is ‘Victoria’ salvia with red verbena and light pink petunias. Another is ‘Stella de Oro’ daylilies with Secretia (sometimes called Purple Queen or Purple Heart), and Artemisia ‘Silver Mound’.”
Cynthia says planting “out of the ground” is a great idea during the hot Texas summers. “Garden barrels allow controlled watering,” which means your plants get a thorough drink, and you don’t waste water on the ground. She recommends using trellises to help shade your barrel.
Cynthia likes mixing flowers and vegetables in her planters and uses flowers that attract bees, like coxcomb. “We can grow bushels of peppers here (in the Transition Zone), like habaneros and pimiento pepper, and yellow straight-neck squash.”
Image: Carsten Medom Madsen/Shutterstock