Patriotic Flowerpot Will Fly Its Colors All Summer Long

Amy Keyishian

Closeup Of Flowers
Red, white, and blue flowerpot for your stoop.
Where I used to live in Queens, there was a guy on the corner whose garage was packed to the rafters with neatly organized and labeled boxes containing house decorations for every conceivable holiday -- the guy even sidestepped irony by having big, plastic, unrecyclable Arbor Day decorations. Every few weeks, his beleaguered wife would trail after him to their backyard and he’d bark orders to her, moving the boxes with military precision to rotate out the next batch of abode-bunting. 

I cannot be bothered. I prefer my holiday decorations to be subdued, natural, and storage-free. Which is why I created a cute little red, white, and blue flowerpot for the Fourth of July that’ll fly its colors all summer long!

Do you like it? Here’s some advice if you want to do something similar.

The three plants I chose were a bright-red Gerber daisy, purply-blue salvia, and a ground covering called bacopa. They all have the same requirements -- six hours of full sun, which even in foggy San Francisco should be pretty do-able on my south-facing terrace -- though they have different water requests, which worries me. But the whole thing came in just under $30, including pot and enough dirt for several terraces, so if it is a total failure, at least I didn’t break the bank.

What I like about this arrangement is that it adheres to the container gardening rule (which I learned in my online class) of “thriller, filler, and spiller.” The daisies are tall, the salvia stands a little smaller to complement them, and the ground-covering bacopa will eventually spill gracefully over the edge of the pot.

Another idea was to have a red trellis vine, such as a morning glory or mandevilla, that would grow way up from the pot, surround it with something blue (such as delphinium), and have the same white ground-cover. But the trellis vines at Lowe's were a hefty 30 bucks, and I know I can do this for free with a clipping from my friend Susan. (We’ll try that one in a few weeks, don’t worry.) And the gorgeous delphinia are delicate -- they wilt easily and aren’t hardy, I was warned in the store. So I also skipped them.

Red White and Blue Flowers
Red, white, and blue flowers
Now, you have to take yourself to your local Home Depot or Lowe's and see what’s on sale, blooming in your area, and just the right hue, but here are some ideas to get you started:

Pansies come in red, white, and a lovely pale blue, and they look like happy little faces. They are generally considered a cool-season plant, but that probably means they’d do well in places like Maine or the Pacific Northwest.

Geraniums are cheap, plentiful, and very, very bright. You can definitely find them in red, and you may find them in white or blue, though they weren’t at my local place. They’re also hardy, so if you’re a beginner gardener, I think they’re a good choice -- I was just sorta stubbornly attracted to the daisies, which might have been a mistake as (I’m peeking out my window now) they’re sadly already starting to droop.

Impatiens come in red, white, and blue -- the trouble is that when you buy a flat of impatiens, you are rarely allowed to pick and choose the hues you want. So this can be a little tricky. But when I lived back east, impatiens were the flowers I started with because there was little I could do to kill them. They’re pretty, but tough, like Natalie Portman.

I almost went with snap dragons for the tallest flower, but they were sold out! How sad is that? They are a gorgeous winter flower and great to have with kids, because you can gently squeeze the bulb at the base of the flower to make the dragon “snap.”

A garden-y friend suggested tall, stalky lobelia, which does have such a deep, cobalt blue flower, paired with red-and-white striped petunias, which made me so mad, because I wish I had thought of that combo. Petunias, in fact, are plentiful, colorful (though the blue is more of a purple), and inexpensive.

Of course, as with anything, you’ve got to double-check to make sure any plants in your home are pet- and child-friendly, and you have to make sure to read the tags on each plant. If you can, grab one of the experts who works in that department to make sure you’re picking a good combination that will work in the setting (potted or in-ground, sunny or shady) you choose.

Have you created a red, white, and blue flowerpot for the Fourth of July? What did you use? Have you got any advice for me?

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