Pot Shots: A Pop of Color


A grouping of simple hypertufa troughs have rested here, forming the edges of a raised bed, since 2014.  I made the troughs for this purpose, and planted them that first year almost entirely in Caladiums.  A dogwood tree grows from the center of this very shady bed planted mostly with ferns and Hellebores.

Wanting year round interest with a minimum of effort, I’ve added hardy Begonia grandis, evergreen Saxifraga stolonifera, additional seedling Hellebores and various ferns in and around the pots over the seasons since.  Vinca minor and ivy volunteered themselves as groundcovers.  I have tried establishing moss around the pots, but haven’t met as much success with that as I would like.



There isn’t much space left to add summer Caladiums anymore, especially as the ferns have filled out and the Saxifraga and Begonias continue to spread themselves around.  But I still tuck in a Caladium tuber or two each spring.  This is easiest to do as the Caladium just begins to grow, before its roots grow too large for the hole I can dig in these shallow pots.



This is one of my favorite spots in the garden year round, now, and we will enjoy the intense pop of color the Caladium ‘Burning Heart’ offers with its intense red leaves.  I like how it plays off of the new Begonia leaves and the stipes of these ferns.

When growing over a period of years in shallow pots, it is important to feed the soil and keep it hydrated for best plant performance.  I top off these pots with some compost with the changing seasons, sprinkle in some Osmocote ever few months, and water occasionally with fish and seaweed emulsion in the mix.


These pots on May 3, before I groomed and topped them off for the season, and before it was warm enough to plant out any Caladiums.  Dogwood petals fell like snow after several days of wind and rain.


This composition of leafy plants holds my interest without a lot of bright flowers.  That said, we enjoy the Hellebores from January through May.


Saxifraga stolonifera blooms this week in another shady fern bed. These perennials send out runners, and a new plant grows at the tip of each runner. The plants root when they touch moist earth. They can fill in a large area fairly quickly and bloom by their second year.


The Saxifraga is blooming this month, and tiny pink Begonia flowers will emerge by midsummer.

The flowers here may be subtle, but the foliage in this bed really pops!

Woodland Gnome 2018



About woodlandgnome

Lifelong teacher and gardener.

2 responses to “Pot Shots: A Pop of Color

  1. I remember when you made your hypertufa containers (has it really been four years?). They have proved useful by the looks. ‘Burning Heart’ looks awesome!

    • With a quarter bag of cement left in the basement, I have been working on ideas for new designs . Once I finish the required hours of my internship, (by the end of May!) I will have time to pursue projects here again . They have been great containers and have weathered well . I’m glad you like C. Burning Heart . It has a unique texture and coloration. I hope to capture an image of light pouring through the leaf, from behind , to show the stained glass windows made by its spots . A remarkable new Caladium!

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