If you want to show patriotism in your yard this July, now is the time to plant. The easiest and most visible arrangement will take root in a container. You can use containers of any size, perhaps just one large flowerpot or many smaller ones. Also, flowers planted in containers are often easier to care for than plants in a bed.
Gardeners can use annuals or perennials for patriotic displays. But remember, it's easier to time the blossoms with annuals. There are very few guidelines when putting a display together. The most difficult chore: finding blue flowers.
The first combination that comes to mind is blue salvia, white petunias and red salvia. These are all annuals and will provide weeks of color with proper care. I've seen them all in the garden centers recently.
Sometimes it makes sense to use a combination of annuals and perennials. You may have perennials in your yard that need dividing. If that is the case, you can add to your patriotic arrangement without any cost. It is actually healthy to divide perennials if they are too crowded. A miniature white rose surrounded by blue salvia and red petunias may work well. Or perhaps a blue hydrangea surrounded by white impatiens and red begonias.
If you purchase a perennial to use in a container, once the season has passed, you can add it to your garden. Choosing a variety that works now and will work later will provide years of color.
White-flowered perennials that may be flowering now include: daisies, agapanthus, lilies, irises, hibiscus, dahlias, baby's breath and daylilies. Annuals with white flowers include vinca, begonias, petunias, impatiens, cosmos, alyssum and cleome.
There are many choices for red annual flowers: petunias, salvia, cannas, zinnias, begonias, cockscomb or geraniums. You might want to include red potato vine, which will spill over the edge of containers. But beware if you add it to your garden; it can be invasive.
A small red hibiscus will look good in a container now and give years of service in your garden. A bottle brush would be a great anchor plant for your container. Bee balm will work also.
Blue flowers are more limited than white or red, especially the traditional blue found in the United States flag. You will find blue verbena, blue salvia, blue lobelia and close-to-blue petunias. Morning glories are a wonderful blue, but they only stay open in the morning. You might also look for a blue hydrangea, forget-me-nots, delphinium, lavender or iris.
Spice up your holiday-themed container with nonflower items. Of course, a small flag definitely says Independence Day. But almost anything that matches the color scheme will work. Look around the dollar store in the party supply section, and you can pick up many low-cost items. A bunch of balloons tied to the flower pot adds height and interest.
Almost any container will work, including those not necessarily produced for plant containers. An old watering can, old metal containers, a wheel barrel (perhaps child-sized) or a large colander (line it with moss to keep the soil in). I have even seen eclectic gardeners use kitty litter buckets. Just remove the labels, and drill holes in the bottom for a sturdy container. The handle makes it easy to transport.
It is best to choose plants with the same cultural requirements, especially if you want your container arrangement to last from summer into fall. Remember that some of the flowers mentioned above, such as impatiens, won't take our summer sun. Save them for a shady area.
With just a little thought and a quick trip to the garden center, you can have a patriotic, colorful addition for your entryway or lanai. But plant it now so the flowers are in full bloom for July 4.