Prep for summer with pots of blooming plants

The summer influx of visiting friends is about to begin, but oops, the patio is looking a bit tattered.

There is nothing in bloom. Yes, the succulents are great, but where is the color that says sunny San Diego? Big pots of blooming plants are the answer.

Start with large pots — at least 16 inches or larger. More soil equals more water storage, plus roots have room to grow. Choose the right plants for the right spot. Before you choose ask these questions: How large will it get? How long will it bloom? How much shade or sun? What are the problems to look out for?

Note: There are no perfect people and there are no perfect plants. Know what to expect and be proactive. There are organic and traditional products available for almost every potential problem. Buy the product and use it when needed — letting it sit on your shelf does nothing!

To bring easy color, create all around mounded combinations that are full of blooms — a showpiece of only geraniums, begonias, petunias or a mixture of plants that grow easily together.

Hint: Don’t put a slow grower in with plants that grow really fast.

The “piller, thriller, spiller” combination is a popular concept. Your center plant is the thriller, the prettiest bloomer that catches everyone’s attention. The spillers are the fill-ins or hanging plants that surround your thriller plant. Optional is your pillar plant — this is the tall plant in the back to give you some extra height.

A few of Evelyn’s choices: geraniums — ivy type is the easiest. Ivy geraniums do everything. Second, a ground cover, basket or a pot of color — they love the sun and thrive in the heat. Money saver: Every once in a while take a few cuttings to start some new geraniums. This encourages even more new growth and gives you some small plants to use in summer sun combinations. Don’t know how? Weidner’s April 30 greenhouse tours will show you (see below for more info).

What about the other geraniums that aren’t the ivy type? Upright growers with huge clusters of red, pink or white flowers — super easy and will last for years. Hint: Watch out for the night flying moth that brings the geranium petunia budworm. Keep the spray with the letters “BT” or “spinosad” on the label handy and start a bi-monthly spray on the buds beginning in May.

Shifting gears, let’s talk about begonias. There are lots to choose from. Biggest show: begonia dragon wings or incredibly orange begonia encanto, while the prettiest begonia is the rosebud solenia. All will take a good amount of coastal sun, tolerate the warmer weather and give you a great big show for your money. Best show for the shade garden are the nonstop tuberous with the big bushy upright Angelwings for the background.

How about the longest lasting all-year blooms? The mandevilla that’s called dipladenia. Plant in a pot or planter box with full to half-day sun. Water twice a week, feed monthly, and there will be guaranteed blooms all year. Looking for splashier scarlet color? That’s the mandevilla sun parasol group with either a climber or hanging variety. Loves the sun and hot weather — it takes a winter blooming break.

The right plant for the right pot — plant blue scaevola into that big pot by the sunny pool or patio. This all-year bloomer loves a big tall container. It’s not messy and keeps forever growing bigger, plus it blooms all year. In a basket it needs to be well watered, but in a large pot, a twice a week soaking will do.

How many other blooming plants are ready to bring your garden to life? Fuchsias, impatiens, gerberas, petunias and so many more.

To see them all and take a behind-the-scenes greenhouse tour, come to Weidner’s Gardens Spring Open House/Greenhouse tours: April 30 at 695 Normandy Rd. in Encinitas. Tours will be held at 11 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.

During the event, learn how to propagate along with all the growing tips you can possibly want. Enjoy a parade of bloomers and succulents in ready-to-go baskets and pots.