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Saturday, February 13, 2021 AnnualsContainer GardeningPerennialsSpring

5 Ways to Add Quick Color to Spring Gardens

Spring can be an unreliable month (the opt-quoted line from T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland,” “April is the cruelest month…” is one that many a gardener has uttered when experiencing an occasional late-spring frost (depending on where you are) or a deluge of plant-flattening rain.)  

But as gardeners, we are always trying to push the envelope -- planting things that don’t quite match up with our USDA Zone or putting plants in the ground too early because we are just too impatient for the growing season. I, for one, am guilty of that. For the color-starved among us, there is hope. Here are 5 ways to add quick color to your spring garden.

1. Add a mass of cool-weather annuals
There are a host of annual flowers that are in perky bloom at your garden center and can also stand up to the cool temperature dips that often accompany Spring. Colorful plants such as pansies, violas, dianthus, snapdragons, petunias, and sweet alyssum, can go into pots or in the ground. Read more about these cool-weather classics. Plus, meet 12 annual flowers that can take the cold.

2. Plant early-blooming perennials
Many of our favorites choose early spring as their debut time. Check out bleeding heart, creeping phlox, Carolina jessamine, Confederate jasmine, columbine, coreopsis, and  perennial salvia for colorful garden plants you can enjoy each spring. Early-flowering perennials also pair well with spring bulbs, such as narcissus, tulips, and crocus.

3. Add interesting and colorful foliage
Foliage offers a beautiful foil to flowers. And there are a wide range of variegated plants that look as flashy in the garden or containers as flowers do. Variegated grasses such as miscanthus infuse color and lushness. Also consider adding flowering kale, dusty miller, black mondo grass and lysimachia (aka creeping Jenny).

4. Plant up a container for your porch or deck
You can use all the plants mentioned in the first three points: annuals, perennials, and foliage plants to create a beautiful planter. And if frost threatens, a porch location helps protect it. If the temps look like they will be too low, toss a drop cloth over the whole thing for the night. Here are some cool-weather container combos. 

5. Add hanging baskets
Your front porch will sing with color when you hang up a container filled with cascading blooms. Foliage plants such as ferns (Boston, Macho, and Kimberly Queen). Pansies, petunia, and geraniums are sold in baskets. If the weather is not on board with your dream of a colorful spring, simply bring the containers indoors to wait out the super-cool nights. Then just hang them up again and enjoy their vibrant hues.  

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