Growing Plants in Containers in Full Sun, part II- The Perennials

Perennials in containers


As mentioned in the post Growing Plants in Containers in Full Sun, part I- Shrubs and Trees, plants of this nature was discussed. In this post the range of plants will be extended to perennials that can be grown in containers and window boxes in full sun will be enclosed.

Perennials in containers
Perennials look good in containers

The choice of what perennials that can be grown in full sun in containers are very extensive and this article will only scratch the surface of all possibilities. The container needs to be large enough (but not as large as those required for shrubs and trees) to hold enough feed for the perennial that grows in them, but also to make sure that they will get the maximum benefit.

With the right amount of fertilizer, water and care any of perennial will survive, even if you have a very bad winter.

What follows are perennial that can be planted in full sun in containers:

AGAPANTHUS ‘Headbourne Series’

Headbourne series
Agapanthus ‘Headbourne Series’

This perennial gas strap-like foliage with large orbs of funnel-shaped blue flowers from late summer to early autumn. This tall perennial grows up to 1.2m high and therefore prefers to be grown in a large container of soil based compost mixed with grit.

AGAVE AMERICANA ‘Variegate’

Agave americana
Agave americana

This succulent mentioned previously in other posts have lance-shaped, sharply pointed, grey-green leaves, with creamy yellow edges. Tall stems of cream flowers appear on hot summers. This large perennial grows up to 1.5m tall and prefers a mixture of soil-based compost and grit. It is not fully hardy and will need frost protection.

ANTHEMIS TINCTORIA ‘Over’s Chamomile’

Chamomile
Anthemis ‘Over’s Chamomile’

This large (up to 1m high) growing clump-forming perennial has long, aromatic leaves. In summer daisy-like flowers, white and yellow centred flowers are produced en masse. It would appreciate being planted in a soil based compost. Noted varieties include ‘E.C. Buxton’.

BEGONIA ‘Cocktail series’

cocktail Mix
Begonia ‘Cocktail Mix’

This evergreen perennial, often grown as an annual, has bronze-green leaves. The flowers from summer to autumn, where pink, red or white blooms are produced.

Often used as part of a container, window box or hanging basket display. This 30cm plant likes to be grown in multipurpose compost. Other Begonia that can be grown in containers includes Begonia Sutherlandii.

BELLIS PERENNIS ‘Daisy’

bellis
Bellis perennis

This is another perennial that is often grown as an annual. It has large oval green leaves, with a cap of pink, white or red flowers in spring. Often planted mixed with other spring bulbs in window boxes, hanging basket or containers in multipurpose compost. They grow up to 20cm tall.

CALIBRACHOA ‘Million Bells Series’

Million Bells Series
Calibrachoa ‘Million Bells Series’

This semi-trailing perennial, often grown as an annual, has dark green leaves. It grows up to 30cm tall, where its flowers from summer to early autumn, of red trumpet-shaped flowers. Does great in multipurpose compost in containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets.

CANNA ‘Striata’

Canna 'Striata'
Canna ‘Striata’

This upright familiar perennial grows up to 1.5m tall, so surely will be a striking feature in any container garden. The leaves are green, with thin white stripes. The flowers are bright orange and appear from mid-summer to early autumn. The ‘Rhizomes’ prefers to be grown in soil based compost, with protection from frost. It is a thirsty plant and needs plenty of water in the summer months in order to prevent wilting.

CAREX COMANS (New Zealand Sedge)

Carex Comans
Carex Comans

This sedge provides a good focal point in the container garden. It is an evergreen perennial with dense tufts of fine bronze coloured leaves. In summer small, brown flowering spikes are produced. It grows up to 35cm tall if it is grown in its preferred soil-based compost. Remove any dead leaves in spring.

CAREX (Japanese Sedge) ‘Ice Dance’

Carex 'Ice Dance'
Carex ‘Ice Dance’

Another member of the sedge family that can be used in containers. This evergreen perennial with fine green leaves, with creamy margins. It grows up to 60cm in height, where in spring, small, white blooms are produced. It prefers to be planted in soil based compost and would appreciate watering in summer.

CAREX TESTACEA ‘Orange New Zealand Sedge’

Carex testacea
Carex testacea

This evergreen perennial sedge has olive green, with some orange-brown leaves mixed in the fray. Dark brown flower spikes are produced in summer. It grows up to a height of 45cm when grown in soil-based compost.

ENSETE VENTRICOSUM ‘Abyssinian Banana’

Ensete ventricosum
Ensete ventricosum

This large growing (3m in height) evergreen palm-like perennial, had large, paddle-shaped leaves, with creamy midribs and red underneath. As it is so large, a big container of gritty soiled based compost is required. Not very hardy and it would need protection from frosts in winter.

GERBERA (Florist Gerbera) ‘Mount Rushmore’

Gerbera 'Mount Rushmore'
Gerbera ‘Mount Rushmore’

This 40cm high perennial has oval lobed, green leaves. Between summer and autumn daisy-like, black-eyed, pink, yellow or orange flowers are produced. It likes to be grown in a multipurpose compost, and winter protection from frost is required.

HEUCHERA ‘Amber Waves’

Heuchera 'Amber Waves'
Heuchera ‘Amber Waves’

This clump-forming evergreen perennial has lobed, orange-yellow leaves, with a pale burgundy underneath. In summer small, bell-shaped pink flowers are produced. Can be used in window boxes and hanging baskets, along with other perennials, where it grows up to 30cm in height.

IPOMOEA BATATAS (Sweet Potato Vines) ‘Blackie’

Ipomoea batatas
Ipomoea batatas

This trailing perennial, often grown as an annual, has ivy-shaped, almost black leaves. It is quite a short plant for a trailing specimen, as it only grows up to 25cm in length. Looks good when interplanted with other brightly coloured plants.

ISOTOMA AXILLARIS ‘Star Flower’

Isotoma axillaris
Isotoma axillaris

This small perennial grows up to 30cm tall with its feathery, green leaves and masses of star-shaped blue flowers from summer to early autumn. This mound forming plant is often used as an annual and will benefit being mixed with other annuals in a multipurpose compost.

LOTUS BERTHELOTII ‘Parrot’s Bill’

Lotus berhelotii
Lotus berthelotii

Another trailing perennial that is grown as an annual. It is quite short only grown to 20cm in length, with its feathery, silver-green foliage. The flowers it produces in summer, look like a parrot’s bill and hence its common name. Can be grown in window boxes and hanging baskets full of multipurpose compost.

NEMESIA CAERULEA

Nemesia caerulea
Nemesia caerulea

A small, compact, mat-forming perennial. It is often grown as an annual but has narrow, dark green leaves. The mauve flowers are fragrant and produced between summer and autumn. The 30cm high plant works well in containers, window boxes and hanging baskets, full of multipurpose compost. Nemesia ‘KLM’ is an alternative but instead of blue and white coloured flowers are produced.

NICOTIANA ALATA (Tobacco Plant)

Nicotiana alata
Nicotiana alata

An upright perennial that is often grown as an annual. The leaves are oval, light green, and the trumpet-shaped flowers are either white, pink or green, with an added bonus of being fragrant at night. The flowers are produced between summer and early autumn. This 75cm tall plant likes a large container full of multipurpose compost.

OSTEOSPERMUM (African Daisy) ‘Buttermilk’

Osteospermum 'Buttermilk'
Osteospermum ‘Buttermilk’

A clump forming perennial with evergreen, narrow grey-green leaves. This quite tall perennial of 60cm has daisy pale yellow flowers from summer to early autumn. This tender perennial (needs winter protection) likes being grown in multipurpose compost.

PELARGONIUM ‘Lord Bute’

Pelargonium 'Lord Bute'
Pelargonium ‘Lord Bute’

An upright, evergreen perennial has rounded, hairy leaves. This perennial often treated as an annual, produces deep purple-red, ruffled flowers throughout summer. This plant grows up to 45cm tall and can be grown in containers, window boxes, and hanging baskets.

Other pelargoniums include the cascade series, which is a trailing variety, and pelargonium multibloom series. This perennial is shorter (up to 30cm in height) and bushier. Flowers come in shades of white, red, pink and purple.

PHORMIUM (New Zealand Flax) ‘Bronze Baby’

Phormium 'Bronze Baby'
Phormium ‘Bronze Baby’

This speculator evergreen upright perennial, which is grown for its arching, sword-like purple-bronze leaves. It grows up to 60cm in its prefers soils based compost.

REHMANIA ELATA ‘Chinese Foxgloves’

Rehmannia elata
Rehmannia elata

An erect perennial with slim, tooth-edged green leaves. This tall perennial grows up to 1m in height, where foxglove-like, yellow centred purple flowers are produced in summer. It grows best in a sheltered spot in a large container of soil-based compost.

RHODANTHEMUM HOSMARIENSE ‘Moroccan Daisy’

Morroccan Daisy
Moroccan Daisy

This perennial looks like a shrub, but it is not. It has evergreen silvery-green leaves, where masses of white, yellow centre daisy-like flowers are produced from late spring to early autumn. Prefers to grow in a free-flowing gritty soil-based compost, where it grows up to 15cm high.

SALVIA FARINACEA

Salvia farinacea
Salvia farinacea

An upright perennial, often grown as an annual, has lance-shaped green leaves. This 60cm tall perennial produces spikes of small, purple-blue flowers. From midsummer to autumn. It can be planted in pots, hanging baskets or window boxes in multipurpose compost. Other salvias that can be grown include scarlet Splendens and Salvia viridus, which is similar in size.

SCAEVOLA AEMULA ‘Fairy Fun-flower’

Scavola aemula
Scaevola aemula

This plant often grown as an annual are evergreen, with toothed, green leaves on stems that trail. The fan-shaped blue, lilac or white flowers are produced in summer. They are ideal for window boxes and hanging baskets, as long as multipurpose compost is used. It will grow up to 50cm long.

SOLENOSTEMON ‘Black Prince’

Solenostemon 'Black Prince'
Solenostemon ‘Black Prince’

Another bushy perennial that is grown as an annual, has spear-shaped dark purple leaves, and bright pink midribs. Another companion is the Solenostemon Scutelieriodes, whose leaves have an array of colours including pink, red, green and yellow, instead of the deep purple. They grow up to 50 cm in height in multipurpose compost, where they mingle well with other annuals in containers, baskets and window boxes.

VIOLA x WITTROCKIANA (Pansy)

Pansy
Pansy

This well known perennial is often seen in containers and hanging baskets throughout the land. It is often grown as an annual, where these small plants can grow up to 23cm in height. It has lobed, dark green leaves. The flower displays are speculator and come in shades of red, purple, yellow and white from early spring to summer. They look good if they are planted in groups in pots, hanging baskets or window boxes in multipurpose compost.

CONCLUSIONS

In this article, the perennials that can be grown in containers in full sun has been reviewed. What is noticed is that a lot of these perennials are treated as annuals and disposed of at the end of the growing season.

There are large varieties from evergreen, coloured leaves and brightly coloured flowers of all different shapes. No matter what your preference there is a perennial that you can grow in patios, balconies and window boxes.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to use the comment box below.

Happy Gardening.


8 thoughts on “Growing Plants in Containers in Full Sun, part II- The Perennials”

  1. I’m a beginner gardener and I’m never quite sure what size box or how much sun to give plants, so this has been very helpful for me. I’ve got a very sunny patio area and had been looking for ideas for a few planter boxes for them.

    There are some really beautiful flowers you describe in this article, but I think my favorite is the pink/purple one in your main image. But you haven’t described it in your article! What is that one? Thank you.

    1. Hi Emily

      The flowers you are talking about is an Aubretia which is my featured images as it is a very colourful flowers.  I did not describe it because it was described in the relevant part of the post.  I hope you think about setting up a container garden because it will add a focal point to your house.

      Kind Regards

      Antonio

  2. My partner has tried to grow perennials on our window sill the past two years now (summer months) but she’s had little to no success so far, and I’m wondering what could be behind this?

    We live in the UK, so the summer weather can be dodgy from time to time – what are the best months to start growing perennials regarding UK summers?

    1. Hi Chris

      The main reasons for the lack of success with container gardening are either watering too little or too much.  Not feeding enough or feeding too much.  You will have to get the balance right in every case.  People also forget that plants in containers will need periodically to be rehoused.  No rehousing the plant will suffer.  

      Normally the best time to plant perennials is between April and Septemeber.  if you go to a garden centre now you will see vast arrays of different perennial that can be bought.

      Hope that Helps

      Antonio

  3. A wealth of very good information. 

    I often struggle to find different plants that are happy in full sun. My back garden is south facing so gets full sun all day. 

    I have used some of these before in pots but its nice to have more variety and have a change at times. I tend to go for  the same sort of thing as its quicker and easier but now armed with this information and I can enjoy a greater variation.

    Very enjoyable post, thank you.

    1. Thank you, Linda

      Your kind words are making me blush.   Hope you have a successful growing season.

      Kind regards

      Antonio

  4. Thanks for providing us this great list of perennials that can be grown in full sun. I think in all that you’ve listed above, this Begonia ‘ cocktail series’ is really what I would love to have at my back window this summer.

    I was thinking you would include the process of or what it will take to start going them in containers.

    Do you have any article related to the growing process that I can have a read of?

    They are really pretty flowers to have around.

    Thanks..

    1. Hi Queen

      I have including posts on how to plant in containers earlier in my website. This includes how to plant them, water them, feed them and general care.  if you look at page 3 of my website you will find all the relevant articles on this subject.

      Thank you for dropping by.

      Antonio

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