Using Shrubs as Feature Plants in Container Gardens

By Bonnie Grant | September 14, 2018
by Bonnie Grant
September 14, 2018

I worked on a prominent estate for four years as a gardener. One of my main jobs was to do the color displays and container gardens. These were very exciting to do, as we weren’t limited to annuals or even flowering perennials. A host of grasses, small evergreens, vines and shrubs were at our disposal. Combining shrubs with the traditional color displays really adds dimension and bold interest to an otherwise basic flowering container. An outstanding choice for container growing is crape myrtle. Although it isn’t reliably hardy above zone 6, it can be grown in a container in northern, cooler regions. Its statuesque form and incredible blooms create outstanding drama, and the whole container can be moved indoors when cold temperatures approach.

Container gardening offers a fun way to create a unique display. Using shrubs as feature plants means less replanting and long-term interest. Black Diamond Blooms has a collection of crape myrtles that have intense black foliage and nine different flower colors from which to choose. All perform as perennials in zone 6 but can also be grown as annuals in cooler zones. The best tip to save these majestic shrubs in cool zones is to plant them in containers with casters so you can easily roll them into the garage or greenhouse. Each plant can grow a compact 10 to 12 feet (about 3 m.) tall with a spread of 8 feet (2.4 m.). Pruning in late winter to early spring can help keep the shrubs to the size you desire without sacrificing blooms.

Crape myrtles are fairly low maintenance plants and are drought tolerant once established. Container grown plants will need a bit more water than in-ground specimens due to evaporation and soil volume. During establishment, water every other day to promote root growth for a month. Fertilize crape myrtle plants once per year in spring as new growth emerges. An organic mulch around the root zone, but not touching the stem, will prevent weeds, provide slow nutrients and conserve moisture. When plants are brought indoors, place them in a cool, but not cold, location with moderate light. Water the plants when the soil is dry to the touch. Move them to a brighter location as spring nears to acclimate them to outdoor lighting.

Black Diamond Blooms has a collection of crape myrtles with a hue for any color scheme. There are several red tones, a blush form, sweet pink, magenta, white, purple and lavender. With the deeply colored foliage and bright blooms in spring, the plant has several seasons of interest. Combine these lovely shrubs with annual plants that are set off by the bronze-black leaves. Flowering perennials also work well combined with these crape myrtles.

In warm regions where the plant can remain outdoors and a very large container is used, other smaller shrubs can be part of the display, but may need to be moved when they get larger. A fun way to companion the plant without excessive competition is with bulbs. Early spring bulbs, for example, would appear especially bright against the dark foliage emerging from winter dormancy, while summer bulbs dance hand and hand with the crape myrtle blooms.

Using shrubs as part of your container garden planting scheme brings new dimension and texture into the garden. The crape myrtle collection from Black Diamond Blooms is an excellent start to a beautiful potted display with many seasons of beauty and ease of care.

The above article was sponsored by Black Diamond Blooms. The information contained in this article may contain ads or advertorial opinions.
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