Pansies: Plant This or That

March in Chesapeake country means pansies at markets, nurseries, and grocery stores.  Pansies were my grandmother’s favorite so I am partial to them too. Another option: take it up a native notch by using perennials and evergreens in containers to add flair and save effort over the longterm.

The container above (and below) includes Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), dwarf crested iris (Iris cristata) and foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia). The only plant to keep any color through the winter is the Christmas fern.  The rest of the year, though, the container keeps on changing …. another perennial plus.  This combination also hews to the frequent advice to mix different textures together.


Here, a small eastern red cedar (Juniper virginiana), coral bells (Heuchera americana) and horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) spiff up an old galvanized trash can.  After a couple of years, the eastern red cedar will probably outgrow the container and can be planted in the ground. Horsetail really spreads in moist soil. Here the slightly drier conditions needed by the other plants should minimize the horsetail growth.


A single seersucker sedge (Carex plantaginea) fills this planter.


The window boxes below are on their fourth year. This combination of dwarf cedar and coral bells do well all year round and handle full sun, downpours, ice and snow.  A robin liked them too.

If it just isn’t spring without the yellows and purples of pansies, what about adding native yellow poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum) or virginia bluebells (Mrtensia virginica) to your planters? Whatever you choose, native perennials and evergreens that can last years in planters are a super choice.







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Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

3 thoughts on “Pansies: Plant This or That

  1. Just wondering if you can reccomend a n annual small tree or bush to obsorb standing water in a flower bed in my backyard ( that has FINALLY dried).
    I live in Potomac/Rockville area. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for the great question — especially given the record amount of rainfall we had last year, there is a lot of water out there! I searched the LadyBird Johnson Wildflower Center database at (choose the ‘native plant’ tab and click on ‘advanced search’) for Maryland and checking soil conditions of moist and saturated. You can also add other criteria like sun or shade, bloom time and plant size. The database search resulted in a nice list of native plants. Of the list that came back, I have experience with the serviceberries and viburnums both of which would be good choices if your spot gets some sun and isn’t saturated year round. Good luck!

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