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Cool-Weather Plantings for Spring Containers

By: Jennifer HowellJennifer Howell
Are you looking for some cool-weather plants to tuck into spring containers? We have three colorful planting plans that can handle the cold nips in spring.

Cool-weather container plantings: These colorful container plantings are perfect for spring!

Welcome spring with cool-weather containers

Winter is fading away and spring annual and perennial flowers are starting to pop up in garden centers in full bloom. Even if the ground is still frozen in your beds and borders, you can start planting containers to scratch that gardening itch you’ve had all winter. Cool temperatures and spring rains mean you shouldn’t have to water much. And once these plants are done blooming, the rest of the garden will be in full swing and you can transplant any that are perennials into your borders to grow and flower next year. Ready to plant? Here are three spring-blooming containers to get you started.

Spring container with pansies, alyssum and ranunculus: Persian buttercup's rose-like blooms are the star of this spring container paired with pansies and dianthus.

Pink spring container planting with pansies & Persian buttercups

Deep pink Persian buttercup is the star in this cobalt-blue ceramic pot, sending papery roselike flowers up for weeks as long as you keep deadheading. Buy Persian buttercups in bloom or as tubers you can grow yourself. Start tubers indoors in winter, 12 to 16 weeks before setting them outside when temperatures are between 50 and 60 degrees F during the day.

Let this planting dry between waterings to prevent the Persian buttercup and dianthus crowns from getting too wet and rotting. As daily temperatures rise, Persian buttercup foliage will get leggy, turn yellow and die as the plant goes dormant. Pull the plant out, pluck off dead foliage, brush soil from the tuber and store it in a paper bag in a cool, dark, dry location until next winter, when you can start it again inside. Replace the cool-weather-loving dianthus and pansies with summer annuals, but leave the skirt of sweet alyssum. It will bloom lightly all summer, then flower more robustly when cool weather returns again in fall. See how this planting came together at our test garden on our YouTube channel!

Protect containers from nibbling deer

Persian buttercups, pansies and dianthus are tasty treats for deer, so be sure to apply a repellent spray every few days.

Pansy and Ranunculus spring container circle planting plan

Plant list (number to plant)

A) Persian buttercupRanunculus hybrid (1)
B) DianthusDianthus hybrid (1)
C) PansyViola wittrockiana (4)
D) Sweet alyssumLobularia maritima (6)
Container shown is 9 inches square

Cool weather contanier planting with nemesia and ornamental kale: This cool-weather tolerant combination of nemesia, pansies and kale is a stunner in spring!

Small but mighty spring container garden

Many early spring bloomers are petite plants, but they can make a big statement when grouped together in a wide, shallow planter. These plants love full sun when the weather is cool. Just keep the soil evenly moist and they’ll be happy.

Purchase bog rosemary when its pale pink flower buds are just popping for the longest show. Its blue-green foliage creates repetition with the ornamental kale even when out of bloom. Deadhead primrose and lewisia to keep them flowering into summer.

Sink the daffodils, pot and all, into the potting mix in the container, so when blooms are done and foliage turns yellow, it’s easy to pull it out without disturbing the rest of the arrangement. Replant the bulbs in your garden or toss them in the compost pile. Pansies and nemesia will eventually succumb to summer heat, so swap them for annuals as temperatures rise in early to midsummer.

Protect containers from a cold snap

If a hard freeze is predicted, move pots full of early bloomers to a protected spot in a shed or garage to prevent damage to flowers and foliage.

Circle planting plan for small but mighty container plan

Plant list (number to plant)

A) NemesiaNemesia Nesia Sunshine (1)
B) Nemesia Nemesia Nesia Denim (1)
C) DaffodilNarcissus hybrid (3 bulbs in one pot)
D) Bog rosemaryAndromeda polifolia ‘Blue Ice’ (1)
E) PansyViola wittrockiana (6)
F) LewisiaLewisia cotyledon Elise Ruby Red (1)
G) Ornamental kaleBrassica oleracea ‘Pigeon Red’ (1)
H) PrimrosePrimula aucalia Danessa Pink with Rose Eye (1)
Container is 20 inches in diameter

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Spring container planting with cyclamen and lobelia: Lobelia makes a great spiller flower in this container planting.

Add cool & calming colors to spring containers

Though traditionally a winter-blooming indoor plant, the cyclamen you find in a florist shop also make a nice outdoor container plant in early spring. It prefers dappled shade and cool temperatures, but move it inside if a frost is expected. Plant cyclamen in a well-draining potting mix and let it dry on the surface before you water to prevent tubers from rotting. When petals fall, twist and tug the flower stem at the base to deadhead and encourage more blooms. In summer, warm temps cause flowering to slow or stop. Leave plants in the container and enjoy the attractive foliage, or pull the cyclamen out and pot it up as a houseplant.

Lobelia makes a great cool-weather shade companion in this combination, with its tiny blue flowers cascading over the lip of the pot. Adding a bit of height in the back of the container, spiky ‘Blue Dart’ rush tolerates light shade in early spring, but prefers more sun, so move it to another planter for the summer.

Cyclamen tip

Cyclamen grows from a corm-shaped tuber that should be planted right at the soil surface, not covered with soil, potting mix or mulch.

Circle planting plan for cyclamen and lobelia container

Plant list (number to plant)

A) RushJuncus ‘Blue Dart’ (1)
B) CyclamenCyclamen hybrid (2)
C) LobeliaLobelia Magadi Dark Blue (4)
Container is 18 inches in diameter

Product Recommendations

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