When adding curb appeal to your property, you want to grab the spotlight. Turn heads with abundant blooming plants strategically placed at your entryway.
"You want to make an impact," says Julie Lohoefener, who with her husband, Chad, owns the Bloom Garden Shop in Tampa. They advise the bigger, the bolder, the better. You want it to be eye-catching as a potential buyer drives by.
They suggest Rieger begonias, because they come in a wide spectrum of colors, paired with Algerian ivy for its 6-inch-wide leaves. Even a simple pot of red geraniums mixed with white diamond frost will make your entrance more inviting.
When greeted with snapdragons, pansies, petunias or Johnny-jump-ups, Northern buyers will be thinking of springtime. Most of these cool-weather plants will last all winter in Florida. If temperatures threaten to drop below 32 degrees, just bring your flowerpots inside.
To arrange a pleasing pot, put tall plants in the back if the pot will be against a wall. If it can be seen all the way around, choose a centerpiece and encircle it with flowers of complementary shades. Finally, add a draping plant, said Sandy Yarnish of Savannas Nursery in St. Petersburg.
"Two to three kinds of anything" can be planted in a hanging basket, says Beverly Bowers of Willow Tree Nursery in St. Petersburg.
Michele Shaffer, a member of the St. Petersburg Garden Club, likes to use bougainvillea, strawberry plants and Christmas cactus. Some plants, like million bells, are perfect for hanging baskets.
Go to a nursery and walk around. Make a list of what you like and select a few of your favorites. Mexican sage, yellow Dahlberg daisies and icicles are a combination that would blend well.
If you're still unsure about mixing flowers, plant just one. Geraniums come in pink and red and either stand upright or can be vinelike. A pot of mums form a globe of yellow, red or orange. This time of year, a pot of red, pink or white pentas guarantees success.
While you're potting, look around your entry and dust off your doorbell, clean the windows and sweep the porch for an impressive home show.
Kyle Pierson is an avid gardener and freelance writer living in St. Petersburg.
. Many nurseries and home improvement stores have ready-made seasonal flower arrangements starting around $12.
. Be sure to plant your flowers in potting mix. Other bagged soil may be too heavy and retain too much water.
. To get the best blooms, use a product such as Scotts Osmocote Time Release Fertilizer and keep the soil moist. But don't overwater. And bear in mind that wind will quickly dry out a potted plant.
. When you're making your own bowl of color, keep eye-pleasing proportions in mind: Combine tall, medium, low and over-the-top growers. Flowers that cascade over the rim of the pot are attention-grabbing in hanging baskets.
. If you must keep the cost low, use plastic pots. But terra cotta looks better and may be better for the plant.
. Select plants with colors that will complement your house color. A red geranium, for instance, will clash against a salmon-colored wall.
Showy winter color
• English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
• Geranium (Pelargonium x hortorum)
• Johnny-jump-up (Viola tricolor)
• Mexican lavender (Salvia leucantha)
. Pansy (viola)
• Petunia (petunia x hybrida)
• Rieger begonias (Begonia x hiemalis)
• Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus)
• Scarlet salvia (Salvia splendens)
• Periwinkle (Vinca rosea, Vinca multiflora)
• Verbena (native is Verbena maritima)
• Tampa vervain (Tampa native Glandularia Tampensis)
Tiny cascading flowers
Plants with cascading tiny flowers:
• Million bells (Calibrachoa hybrid)
• Blue daze (Evolvulus nuttallianus)
• Dahlberg daisies (Dyssodia tenuiloba)
• Silver fog or diamond frost (Euphorbia)
• Pentas (Pentas lanceolata)
• Mums (Chrysanthemums)
, Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra)
• Pygmy date palm (Phoenix roebelenii)
A little here and there
• Algerian ivy (Hedera canariensis)
• Dusty miller (Senecio cineraria)
• English ivy (Hedera helix)
• Goldilocks (Lysimachia)
• Icicles (Helichrysum thianschanicum)