Out With The Old and In With The New….

container plants

May has arrived, and you may notice that your container plants aren’t looking to hot right now.  Petunias, pansies and snapdragons usually start to dry out and droop as the weather approaches the century mark. 

It is time to switch out your winter flowering annuals for those that can handle our summer sun and heat.

This is always somewhat bittersweet for me.  I do not like tearing out beautiful flowers.  They have performed so beautifully for me since last October.

container plants
container plants

Container plants

But the truth is, is that if I don’t pull them out, the heat will finish them off sooner or later.  Also, it is helpful to plant summer flowers before the heat arrives so that they can have time to establish before dealing with the stress of summer temperatures.  

And so for those reasons, I gritted my teeth and began pulling.

container plants

Container plants

Now, I am ready to start with a clean slate or should I say, clean soil.  

Now, not all of the following photos are particularly beautiful, but are helpful in illustrating how I planted my new summer flowers, which will look great soon.

Now, I couldn’t find my small hand spade this morning, which is probably a result of having four children still living at home.  I am sure one of them knows where it is, but they were at school and so I improvised.

container plants

Okay, I realize that those of you who have had the opportunity to come over and eat at my house may never do so again after seeing me use my large serving spoon.  But, it really worked out ideally and I put it in the dishwasher afterwards 😉

First, I dug up the top 6 inches of soil, taking care to remove large clumps of roots.

 large clumps of roots

**I warned you that some of the pictures were not going to be particularly pretty….

The next step was to add 6 inches of compost and mix it in with the existing soil.  Unfortunately, I do not have my own compost pile, so I used bagged compost available at my local nursery.  The brand is not important, just use what your nursery has in stock.


I made a single hole for my new plant, which is 1-gallon in size, instead of the smaller sizes – I’ll explain more about that later.  I made sure that I did not add too much soil, because I do not want to deal with soil overflowing whenever I water.


The area my pots are located in faces west and receives afternoon sun in the afternoon.  As a result, I need to use a plant that can withstand the intense sun and heat of summer.  From my experience around golf courses and commercial landscapes, Lantana and Vinca do best.  

Last year, I planted Vinca and so this year, I will use Lantana.  Since it is not always easy to find Lantana in a small size, I just purchased a single 1-gallon Lantana for each container.


Now, I must admit that the picture on the plant tag, does not exactly match the flowers.  But, they have not opened up completely, so we will see what they look like.

Okay, I admit that it does not look too impressive right now.  You may be asking why I am not adding any more to the pot?  Well, first of all, my tastes are somewhat simple.  But, the major reason is that the Lantana will grow rapidly and cover the bare areas very quickly.  

Soon, it will hopefully look like this one….


The last and maybe best reason that I love to use Lantana in containers is that when I dig them up in the fall, (in order to plant winter/spring flowers), is that I can plant the Lantana in my garden and enjoy them year-round.

What summer flowers are you planting in your containers?

Flowers for Summer? Not So Fast…..

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
18 replies
  1. Turling
    Turling says:

    My, my, my. I spend so much time pulling out the dead ones, I don't think I could bring myself to pull out the good looking ones! But, I do understand. My mom in Goodyear has tried potted plants with little success. To the point, where I now have her biggest pot in MY backyard. Anyway, I can't wait to see the lantana in full glory.

  2. Darla
    Darla says:

    I would have a headache from clenching my teeth together so hard if I had to pluck out those beauties. I leave mine alone so that they will reseed for the next year…most of mine are in the ground and not containers. I love container plantings too. Your Lantana is going to be so pretty.

  3. Becca's Dirt
    Becca's Dirt says:

    Your lantana will be pretty in the pots. Last year I did not like my lantana in the beds or the pots. I pulled it all out. I will be preparing my pots this week.

  4. Ami
    Ami says:

    That is what I am about to do this coming weekend, pulling out the winter annuals! Your lantana looks like the trailing type that I have, not the mounding type. It will be interesting to see when it grows bigger.

  5. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    LoL I have aslo used my potspoons as a trowel for potting! i would have cut the flowers and put them in vases inside, however.

  6. Balisha
    Balisha says:

    It hurts me to look at this post. I do love those beautiful Lantana.I have two hanging baskets. I put a Mandavilla Vine in the center and purple bacopa and a lighter shade of lavender super petunia. The other has Black Eyed Susan vines, and a colorful spike (don't know the name) in the middle, and asparagus ferns. I had trouble with Jap. beetles last year, so this year I am trying something entirely different.They seem to like roses, geraniums, and petunias.We,in the North,do this pretty much in the fall, when our flowers are fading. We bring in a couple of fallish plants to liven things up.

  7. Christine B.
    Christine B. says:

    Hope you find your trowel, as I think your serving spoon will turn up its nose at such dirty work on a regular basis.

    How low it makes me that you are already getting rid of your spring bedding and ours can't even be reliably set out yet. I might just cheat conventional wisdom this year by a week (or three) because its been so warm lately.

    Christine in Alaska

  8. Janet
    Janet says:

    I know what you mean about hating to remove full blooming annuals at their peak. It is hard to shift seasons.

  9. Jim Groble
    Jim Groble says:

    So you get full flower coverage all year by changing pots? How cool. We add mums and decrative cabbage in early fall and just wait for the frost to kill everything off. It looks like the heat does the same thing. Something to tell Katie about.

  10. Sharon Lovejoy
    Sharon Lovejoy says:

    Good gutsy girl. I have SUCH a hard time tugging things out and composting them.

    I love visiting and seeing how things are going in your garden.

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  11. Jess
    Jess says:

    I feel the same way… I know those johnny jump ups will be dead very soon, but they still look fine. I can't quite yet put them out of their misery. I just keep moving them to denser and denser shade 🙂

  12. Grace Peterson
    Grace Peterson says:

    No planting yet. We're supposed to get frost tonight. Happens every year. Just when we think Alaska has finished blowing her cruel wind down on us, she goes for one more puff. At least I hope it's only one more puff. California's breezes should be coming our way by the weekend, thankfully.

    I don't plant many tenders. I'm sure liking the looks of that Lantana though… NICE.

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