Today is about container planting in the cool season. These petunias are in a window box outside the kitchen window. They really brighten the view in the dreary days of late winter and early spring before much else is blooming. Petunias are a fine container choice that never fail. You can either let them trail out or cut them back for a more bushy look. I'm keeping these cut back for a more full look.
Another nice container plant for the cool season is Dianthus. This is Ideal Violet, a common variety found at garden centers. They are easy to grow and quite forgiving for those who sometimes forget to water as frequently as they should. They naturally have a bushy, full appearance and bloom like crazy.
For my last cool season container I present the lovely pansy. These are great because you can hang them in areas that get less sun. I've got these on my front porch on the north side of my house where they get only indirect sunlight. (This same area will get some impatiens once these pansies play out.) I don't know what variety this is, but the unusual color really caught my eye and I bought them on impulse.
So what is the secret to containers? One, stuff plenty of small plants in each container. I used to make the mistake of putting one or two plants per container. Instead, put at least four in a typical hanging container. This gives much more of a mass effect and fills the container out better. Second, get some slow release fertilizer (like Osmocote) and put the appropriate amount in with your potting soil. This will keep the plants well-fed for the whole growing season.