Once the worst of the tree pollen tsunami has passed, it’s time to clean off all the gunk and start thinking about putting together summer planters for the deck. We use our deck exclusively for outdoor dining, so only an umbrella table, chairs, and our grill are on it. To turn this rather barren space into an inviting place to have a meal, I like to decorate it with various containers filled with beautiful flowers.
Developing A Color Scheme
Trying to figure out what colors look best together when faced with the overwhelming number of flowers available these days can be difficult. And premade planters can be quite expensive. So, the first thing I do before I go to the garden center is to come up with a color scheme. I like to choose three main flower colors. Although, I also often add small pops of white to brighten my arrangements. I prefer to limit the palette for my summer planters because it gives the outdoor “room” a more cohesive put-together look.
This year, I was inspired by a red, pink, and yellow floral pattern on a settee in my formal living room. The sumptuous bouquets of vibrant multi-hued blossoms have such an exuberant vibe that I thought would look great on the deck. Because I am particularly fond of the red and yellow “Parrot” Tulips in the print, I was determined to find summer flowers with a similar dual color combination.
I’m sure you’ve heard the formula which recommends including “thriller,” “filler,” and “spiller plants in your container gardens. This is a helpful guideline, but I also think it’s important to consider the sizes of the blooms you choose. With this in mind, I try to vary the size of the flower heads in the three different colors of plants I’ve chosen for my summer planters.
Because I tend to purchase quite a few varieties of flowers to mix and match in my various planters, I exclusively purchase only cost-effective plants from The Home Depot and Lowes. Another thing I do to save money is to divide plants that are potted together in larger pots. For example, I only bought one pot of red Geraniums. But within that one pot, I was able to separate four individual plants which I planted in four different planters.
All flowers used in the four different-sized summer planters I use on my deck are full or partial sun plants.
Flower Box Summer Planters
The first summer planters I decided to tackle are the two flower boxes that sit on the deck rails. My “thrillers” are Geraniums. They are relatively tall and have the most upright growing habit of the plants I chose for the boxes. I selected one classic deep red Geranium and one “Calliope Crimson Pink Flame” Geranium for each planter. The”Calliope” Geraniums remind me of the flowers on my settee, as they are two-toned. They have hot pink blossoms with deep red eyes. Even though there is not much space in these narrow boxes, I tried to plant the Geraniums towards the center back of the planter.
Since I wanted these containers to look lush and full, I didn’t include any “filler” plants. Rather, I added a variety of “spillers or trailing plants to mix together and overflow the boxes. Keeping in mind my desire for bicolor blooms, I chose two yellow and white striped Grande Superbells “Lemon Slice” (Calibrachoa) to flank the geraniums in the back of the planter. These mini petunia-like blooms are a great addition to the flower boxes because they are heat tolerant and don’t require deadheading.
I chose these red and yellow striped blooms because they closely resemble the Parrot tulips from my inspiration fabric. The final plant in the center front of the flower boxes is a delicate “White Blush” Verbena. I chose it for it’s light color and because it’s supposed to be heat tolerant and long flowering.
Large Summer Planters
After finishing the flower boxes, I moved on to two large faux terracotta pots that sit at the end of my deck. I usually like to plant something tall in these large summer planters. I have put Hibiscus standards in the pots and underplanted them with some Petunias and Potato Vine in past years.
This year I decided to try something new for the “thriller” or feature plant in these pots. So, when I found these pretty pink Dipladenias at Lowes, I thought I’d give them a try. I wasn’t familiar with them, but they look like Mandevilla. However, unlike Mandevilla, which are vining plants, the Dipladenias grow upright in the form of a small shrub. I placed the Dipladenias towards the back of each large pot—this left room to plant shorter and trailing plants around the bases.
Having taken care of a pink element in the pots with the Dipladenias, I needed to include some red and yellow flowers.
I’d purchased what The Home Depot refers to as a living bowl, filled with “Valentino White” Rieger Begonias. (I couldn’t find these at Home Depot online. They are available online here.) These are sweet little pale pink (almost white) buttercup-like plants with showy yellow centers. The bowl contained four separate plants, so I transplanted two begonias, which have a mounding habit, into the front of each large pot.
In between the Begonias, I planted another White Blush Verbena. I then continued to fill the area around the Dipladenia with a pair of red “Superbena” Verbenas and a couple of “Betty” white Bacopas. These “spiller” plants will eventually trail over the side of the pots in a colorful cascade.
Medium-sized Summer Planters
To give dinner guests seated facing the house something pretty to look at, I’ve hung a pair of decorative wrought iron pot shelves on the back wall of the house. On these shelves, I have placed sunny yellow medium-sized pots.
This year, I started planting each of these pots with a Red Geranium. I next put in two “Starsister” Dahlias. (I couldn’t find them at Lowes or Home Depot online. Check your local store or find them online here.) Like the “Queen Of Hearts Petunias,” these Dahlias share the red and yellow striped feature of the “Parrot” Tulips in my inspiration fabric.
The final plant I added to these pots is an “Aloha Kona Tiki Soft Pink” Calibrachoa. These Million Bells or Mini Petunias refer back to my upholstery print flowers because they are multi-colored showstoppers. They have trumpet-like pink flowers with yellow throats and deep pink centers. Calibrachoas are the perfect “spillers,” as they will provide summer-long blooms that will billow over the edge of the shiny yellow pots.
Small Summer Planters
I completed the decoration of my outdoor “room” with summer flower planters by placing two Nonstop Yellow Begonias on the dining table.
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