It is that time of the year when most socially active women want to be prepared to entertain, especially when you have a garden or garden room.  No matter how busy we are in our workaday lives, there will always be unexpected company who will visit or that quick phone call to friends for a impromptu get together. …a spontaneous spot of color is important.  With the right preparation at the beginning of the garden season, you can always be prepared for guests in the garden.  Here are a few pointers that promise to put you on Floral Lane and not Disaster Avenue.

  • PICK THE PERFECT POT – Pots can sometimes become a girls worse nightmare.  Too many small pots usually require daily watering, particularly during the high heat of Summer.  Solution – medium to large sized pots, placed in strategic places wherever you will be entertaining. Larger pots with plants (1 plant/shrub/tropical as a focal point or odd groupings of plants that complement each other) that have that  WOW factor, will be more attractive than a lot of small pots. There is always an exception to the rule.  I love mint in different flavors.  I use small pots with saucers for my mint collection.  Smashed mint leaves in a glass of iced tea is a very special summer treat!!  Heaven forbid mint roots sneak out from the bottom of the pots and take up residence.  Mint is one of those plants that you can love to hate and it can be the guest that will not leave once rooted in the ground. One other pointer, if it’s a bit heavy empty, imagine how much it will weigh with soil and plants.  Straining to move a pot will certainly ruin the joy of summer time gardening and hurt your back as well.
  • CHECK THE LIGHTING AND SET THE PROPER TONE FOR YOUR ENVIRONMENT – Notice your lighting in your entertainment area.  If you are in bold, hot sun you want to choose tropical plants (Cannas, Hibiscus, or even a tropical vine with a trellis) that will take the fierce,hot sun.   If using a tropical as a focal point, you can always under plant with something trailing that does not compete, but complements. Most garden centers have staff to guide you in your selections – however, doing your research in advance always helps in the selection process.  If you have sun/part shade, the options are endless.  From traditional petunias, soldier’s shield, bacopa to sweet potato vine – each of these grouped in odd numbers 3,5, or more (depending on the size of the pot) can make a large planter quite bodacious.  The biggest factors to a successful mixed planting is variation of the height, fullness and of course the “WOW” of the colors you choose.  Peruse through some publications specifically designed for container plant ideas.  You will be surprised at how three or five of carefully selected plants can make you look like the Goddess of the Garden and certainly the talk of your peer’s. A planter that is too busy will not allow your mind to rest and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you.  3 or 5 depending in the size…if it is too scant in July, just add more until you are happy with your creation!!
  • MAKE SURE THE PLANT SELECTIONS FIT YOUR LIFESTYLE – No matter how much you love that specialty, exotic plant – if you have to take care of it like another person, feel you are married to it and you are trying to live your life, CHOOSE SOMETHING ELSE.  There is nothing worse that falling in love with “The Plant”, only to get it home and find that it drinks and eats more than you do.  Read the label on any selection that you choose.  Sun plants mean at least 6 – 8 hours of full sun. Sun/Part Shade plants means 4 -6 hours of sun, but some type of shade buffer will surely help these plants look their best throughout the growing season.  Some plants that say full sun actually appreciate a little break from the heat.  I have geraniums that I have in part sun and I find that the blooms are more vivid, they last a bit longer and I do not have to water them a lot.   It is better to err on the side of caution and move a pot to get more light or more shade (or vice versa)
  • ADD EDIBLE SELECTIONS TO YOUR POTS – It might seem strange, but just imagine adding a few lettuce seeds that will mature quickly as the plants fill in.  As the lettuce matures, you make a terrific salad with perhaps some Calendula blossoms from previous seeding while you decided what you would put in the pot. If you place your pots around your entertaining area in early Spring, as the garden is warming up, toss in some seeds of cool season edibles (like lettuce, radishes, baby carrots, violas, purslane – to name a few).  This creates interest with added value – it is all edible.

I hope these tips prove helpful as we move into the warmer summer months.  Here is a combination that I threw together with some rather generic plants – a pink petunia, a white geranium and a caladium tuber in white with pink spots.  I will be sharing this simple pot combo throughout the season, so you will be able to see how a trio of simple, inexpensive plants can create a corner of WOW in your life.