Planting Pots For Spring

spring pots April 2015 (20)I have been planting spring containers for over a week now.  Of course the earliest pots had the biggest restrictions as to what plant material will tolerate the chill. No one wants to haul their pots into the garage every night that the temperatures threaten to be below freezing.  But every gardener is ready and willing to risk being out early.  We have been stuck indoors too long.  The pansies are incredibly cold tolerant, as are the kale and cabbages.  Lettuce is fairly cold tolerant-but the leaves are very thin.  They can suffer over a cold night.  Parsley has thicker leaves-they shrug off the cold.  Ranunculus do quite well outdoors in early spring, but their time is short.  Love them while you can.

spring pots April 2015 (18)Trailing pansies are new to me.  The Cool Wave series. I love the colors, and the lax habit of growth.  They are great and graceful in urns.  By mid June, these pansies will put on a lot of horizontal weight.  This wispy look is fine for now, at a time when the garden is just beginning to wake up.

spring pots April 2015 (14)I will confess that I have a few trick up my sleeve for height in spring pots.  I could plant 1 gallon pots of forsythia in spring pots, but a 1 gallon shrub takes up an enormous amount of space.  Container space is at a premium.  These pots got a spring look via some spiralled dry palm leaf stems and dry palm leaf flowers.  Do I mind that these stems come from natural materials that are dry-no. The greater good is an expression of spring that delights the eye, and the heart.

spring pots April 2015 (6)Cut pussy willow stems are beautiful in spring pots. Though we get in loads of straight stems from our grower every spring, I value the home grown branched stems that have volume. This pot had alyssum and phlox intensia which is barely showing color. Another few weeks of warmer weather will mean growth. The plants we use in spring pots are cold tolerant, but it will take some warmth for them to grow.

spring pots April 2015 (21)Spring flowering bulbs are actively growing, despite the cold. We do pot up lots of bulbs in the fall, as they are programmed to thrive in the early part of our gardening year.  The small flowering bulbs are blooming in the garden right now.  Having a pot full at the front door is all the more fun.  From the time the tulips break ground, until the flowers open is an experience of spring not to be missed.  This tulip, Jaap Groot, is a pale  yellow, with dark yellow feathers.  The cream colored edges on the leaves are beautiful, are they not? This pot looks good already. The joy and pleasure of growing any plant is much more than the story of the flowers.

spring pots April 2015 (4)I like mixing cut pussy willow stems, the early starts of romaine lettuce, and the pansies. This is a gesture that will only get better as the spring progresses.  spring pots April 2015 (9)

These centerpieces graced the winter pots for this client.  I did not see a need to replace them for spring.  They just needed a spring hug. I like when materials can be reused from one season to another.

spring pots April 2015 (11)This spring pot features a pair of German ivy baskets whose long trailers were tied up into the birch branches that filled this pot for the winter.  It will take a few days for the leaves of the ivy to turn back towards the light.

spring pots April 2015 (10)Twigs, whether they be fresh cut or dry, add some welcome volume to a pot that is freshly planted for spring. There is no need for any pot to sit empty in early spring. Though our greenhouses are filling up with summer flowering annuals, I like to take the time to enjoy the season at hand.

spring pots April 2015 (17)There are plenty of plants to choose from-cold tolerant annuals, spring perennials, cold tolerant herbs and vegetables, and spring flowering shrubs. Just about anything green looks good.

spring pots April 2015 (3)Putting ones hands in the soil of a container again feels great.  It’s the first place I garden in the spring. I like to wait until the in-ground garden shows itself before I wade in. There are plenty of good reasons to plant for spring.

spring pots April 2015 (5)spring pots

spring pots April 2015 (23)potted pink grape hyacinths

spring pots April 2015 (2)yellow twig dogwood and cool wave pansies

spring pots April 2015 (7)the face of spring





  1. Linda Gardner says

    I live in central pa where pots can’t reliably be potted till Memorial Day. Your pots have inspired me. I have a river burch that sheds branches constantly and I will now use them hopefully as cleverly as you

  2. Diane Plocek says

    We so enjoyed our visit at the spring open house…Now it’s time to get busy with gardening…My spring garden is very happy this year, with bloodroot, hellebores, daffodils, fritillaria and many more. Pansies are exactly what I need to my large pots with pussy willows..your photos are always inspiring Great ideas as always…..

  3. How long into the season do the trailing pansies-“Cool Wave” last- hopefully thru the summer?

  4. Joni Holland says

    You do great pots. Think that’s what attracted me to the Detroit Garden Works website. So interesting that your spring annuals (pansies) are our winter ones here in California. Thus year I started planting pots in January! keep posting all your creations!

  5. I need to figure out one great pot for my front porch/entry. I’m studying carefully:).

  6. Love, love, love the spring confections!! do you have pussy willows, colored dogwood stems, etc. at DGW?

  7. Beautiful pictures and compositions. You are definitely the Queen of Planters! For Spring planters though, it seems that pansies are quite extensively used. I am gay, and for that reason I don’t want to use pansies in my garden – ever. The word ‘pansy’ is such a stigma in my life style … Therefore, my Frank Lloyd Wright-design planters sit empty between the removal of the Winter ornaments and Memorial Day (when it is safe to plant again). But thank you for showing these pictures, you are always an inspiration.

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Antoine, a spring container garden is for everyone. There are no rules or best plants. Just one gardener, a container, and an idea about beauty. There are so many choices now-both annual, perennial, shrubby, and herb-y. As much as you love the garden, consider the challenge of a spring planting that would suit you. It might be fun. Always good to hear from you. best, Deborah

    • Antoine,
      How about violas? snapdragons? dusty miller? cabbage/lettuce/kale? alyssum? These are all cold hardy!
      Also, as Deborah showed, various twigs & branches and silk picks can add additional interest, color, and hardiness.
      Plant and create what makes YOU happy!
      Good luck!

  8. Deborah, to me anything with a pansy in it is a beautiful spring planter!

  9. katie near chicago says

    Cool Wave pansies are new to me — and after reading your post, I found some at our nearby Lowe’s — 5″ pots were marked down to $1 each because the foliage had been darkened by our most recent frost. TIme to try those pansies!

  10. Hi there,

    I’m in zone 5 (Ontario Canada) can I plant forced Ranunculus Sprinkles in planters for the spring, starting April? will the frost do anything to them if they are not covered? I would like to plant these with tulips and Helleborous.

  11. Hi Debra:

    Can you clarify the use of purple eucalyptus in your containers? I live in the Boston area and want to use them in an uncovered area for spring containers… what do I purchase and will they last until beginning of summer?
    Thank you for your thoughts!

    • Deborah Silver says

      Dear Dani, you would want preserved eucalyptus. It is color and light fast. best regards, Deborah

Leave a Comment