April Showers, Bring May Flowers – What to Plant in Your Coastal NC Gardens

April’s upon us and many of us now have some extra time to devote to working in our gardens this year.  But a lot of this will seem more like pleasure than work.  What better time than now to add some beauty into the world?  So, even though spring is still with us, it’s time to think about summer, especially when choosing plants for flower beds in sunny spots.

Lantana: For a long time, lantana has been a top choice for these hot spots. There are trailing types suited for pots and hanging baskets and upright ones that go well in both containers and beds. They come in a wide range of colors and are known for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden.

Zinnias: Zinnias, too, love hot, sunny positions, and grow in a range of heights that make them suited for edging or background plants. Zinnias are sold widely as bedding plants but they are also quite easy to grow from seeds sown in warm soil.

Pentas and angelonia:  These hot-spot plants are great choices because they stand up well to our high summer temperatures and humidity.   They are hearty and require little maintenance and thrive well into the fall.

Portulaca and periwinkle: Both portulaca and periwinkle make good choices for gardeners who don’t wish to do a lot of watering. And both come in lovely colors that appeal to many tastes. Large pots also suit them for a summer home.

For shady spots: While shade usually seems cooler, it can still be quite hot. That makes impatiens, begonias and torenia good choices. Torenia, also called wishbone flower, will bring lovely tones of blue and violet into a shade garden that could be dominated by the reds and pinks of impatiens and begonias. Torenia also makes an excellent pot plant and also comes in other colors such as rose pink and white. 

So, break out your gardening gloves and straw hats because the time to get started on your spring garden!

Hardy perennials and some of the hardier annuals such as alyssum can go in the ground starting now, and good selections are already showing up in garden centers. Choose for color and variety and try to stretch the season with perennials selected for early summer, mid summer and late summer bloom.

The tender annuals chosen for summer beauty go in during April and May. These include such popular and long-blooming plants as pentas, petunias, angelonia, heliotropes, lantanas and begonias. Use them for beds, pots and baskets. Choose the flowers based on the amount of sun or shade they’ll get. If you plant early, frost could threaten these tender plants, so plan to cover beds and containers with a sheet, anchored with a brick or small rocks.

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