April 22nd, 2014
Lots of plants are slow starters that just don’t show well in pots at the garden center.
They’re usually under-planted even though they mature into trouble-free beauties later in the season in the garden.
Last week we looked at my top 10 plants that do the opposite… ones that look better in pots than the garden.
Here’s my list of top 10 plants that turn out to be better in the garden than in pots:
1.) Climbing hydrangea/Japanese hydrangea vine. These two woody vines are similar in habit and looks with their heart-shaped leaves and white or pink summer flowers.
They’re my favorite shade vines, but it can take them a good 3 years in the ground before they hit prime. In a pot as a toddler, they’re plain and even gangly.
2.) Leadwort (plumbago). An under-used groundcover, leadwort fills in quickly without becoming invasive, it blooms blue in late summer, and it has leaves that turn blood red in fall.
In spring in a pot, there’s nothing going on. Leadwort is boring and puny then.
3.) Crape myrtle. Few tall shrubs/small trees are as showy in summer to late summer as this Southern staple. (We can grow ones selected for Pennsylvania cold hardiness.)
The problem is these are some of the last plants to leaf out in spring, much less flower. So at prime plant-shopping time in early to mid May, crape myrtles are still bare, which is why garden centers often don’t even bother carrying them until early summer.
4.) Threadleaf bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii). A U.S. native perennial, threadleaf bluestar is at its best when it’s had a chance to grow into a summertime 3-foot bush with ferny, thready foliage that turns golden in fall.
It blooms baby blue in spring, but its small size in pots in spring doesn’t nearly do it justice.