Perennials, herbs, phlox...and shade-loving,winter-proof annuals?

fmogul(z6-7 NY)May 25, 2006

We have a couple planters by our (partly/mostly shady, well protected) front door. They're filled with pansies, and god bless 'em, they keep coming back. Problem is, now we're somewhat bored with them and want something new. Forgive me, trusty pansies! But we're also spoiled, and would like to do a mix where as much of it will survive the winter outdoors as possible.

I don't really know much about annuals (or container gardening). Any chance in heck those lovely New Guinea impatiens can winter over, if protected? If not, any other shade-loving, long-flowering annuals that just might make it through a z6-7 winter?

What about perennials for this spot, like phlox? Not exactly long-flowering, but would it work? I'd consider day lilies, but they'd fill the whole pots and not leave room for anything else. I'd definitely like a mix of things, where at least something was a long-lasting flower.

I'd mix in heuchera (corral bells) or astilbes for the foliage, but they're both relatively large and fast growing for a 24" pot. Don't think that'd leave much room for anything else. True? Are there mini varieties?

Trailing lobelia? It can take shade, right? At all winter hardy?

Vinca would probably winter over, right? In the end, I'll probably just go with that. Any varieties people like?

Lastly, what about herbs? Any shade-tolerant ones that would mix in well -- and maybe, just maybe, either winter over or self-seed themselves sufficiently to come back? One greenmarket vendor suggested purple basil. Anyone used that? Anything else?

I realize there are a few different issues in here -- and that in addition to everything else there are moisture and soil compatibility issues -- but am grateful for any input!

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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Anything rated Zone 3/4/5 (if you have Zone 6/7 winter) should do okay in a container, provided there is adequate drainage in the container and you can take steps to do some protection in severe cold spells and keep excessive moisture out of the container through winter, which can often kill a plant faster (rotting a crown) than any cold.

The phloxes (paniculata/"Summer phlox" or subulata "creeping phlox") are hardy to Zone 4 & 3 respectively

The heucheras (depending on type) are hardy to Zones 3/4

Astilbes are generally Zone 4.

Daylilies can be Zone 3/4 depending on variety.

Many of the mints (a large family) are very hardy and many of the menthas within that family are generally hardy to Zone 3. They can also grow in shade where other herbs prefer more sun.

Some of the other plants you mention like the vinca, impatiens, trailing lobelia, pansies, basil are either tender perennials or annuals and may or may not reseed. I have seen the regular impatiens reseed here but not sure about the new guineas. One good reseeder as annual or perennial depending on variety (where some are hardy and others tender) are the salvias (which are in the mint family). They do like a little more light but some of the dwarf varieties might offer a nice combination plus with dead-heading, they can go from all summer until frost knocks them back. Another mint family potential reseeder and/or perennial are the balms (lemon balm, bee balm, etc). Yet another possibility includes one of my staples - the wax begonia and petunias. I have had both reseed as well and with the begonia being a tender perennial, they can be scooped out and nursed inside to be planted out the following season. They like other tender perennials, tend to have a longer bloom duration than the hardies - akin to annuals. The petunias bloom better in more sun but can have a decent bloom in part sun.

Don't be afraid to grow perennials. If they spread, just dump them out, divide, and replant! I've done this with my containered daylilies and hostas and will be doing it for my asiatic lilies hopefully this fall (I keep putting it off...lol).

    Bookmark   May 25, 2006 at 11:17AM
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