Favorite Plants + Tips for Every Black Thumb

I mentioned last week that we are so looking forward to Whit’s first communion in May.  Well, there’s nothing like a party to spur you into action, right?!  I got right to work this weekend planting SPRING in my pots!!  I have to say, it felt SO good and looks SO good already.  I wanted to go ahead and share because after much trial and error, I have a small little set of plants that I go to year over year for my pots.

On the front porch I have had loads of luck with a basic fern.  They tend to last me from March through Christmas on my covered front porch and I water them 1-2 times per week.  I do try to sit them out in the open when I know rain is coming.

I still use my driveway sitting area a ton between watching the littles play outside and drinking a glass of wine while Honey grills.  I’m hoping to find two new chairs, paint that table again and possibly add an umbrella but we shall see how the time and money unfold.  HA!  It looks decent in this pic, but weather and years have done a number on everything pictured.  :-)

All of my pots are resin to look like clay and I have had ALL of them since well before we moved here 8 years ago.  So, they hold up well.  None of them started off black.  I give them a good coat of spray paint every couple of years.  In fact, I ran the paint over all of these before planting in them.  I started out this post under the premise of sharing my favorite plants but, laughably, I have no clue what that spikey grassy thing is in the middle.  I buy it every year and it does GREAT!  Here I have it paired with two green potato vines and about 6 small white petunias.

Also on the driveway is our friend’s entry via the garage.  Because a friend’s entry sounds so much more fabulous.  In real life our friends just come straight in the the almost-always-open garage.

This pot is a bit more shaded than the other one out here because of the door overhang and the way the sun sets.  I always plant my two shamrocks (that I buy in early March for indoor St. Patrick’s Day decor) here with more white petunias.  They last until the first frost.  I have noticed that they usually look pretty bad right after planting but then perk back up shortly thereafter.

I keep three pots on the stairs going up to the porch.  These are also resin but I purchased them at Target 4-ish years ago.  I don’t paint these :-)  I love to plant the same white petunias here, along with green and purple potato vine.  And that spikey grassy thing I don’t know the name of.

The blue bulbs were found at Target years ago as well.  You fill them up with water and it helps keep them moist between actual waterings.


To sum things up…

  • I use resin pots and spray paint them black every few years.
  • I use moisture control potting soil to help in the incredibly hot summers.
  • I like to put 2-3 different things into each pot.  Here are my favorites:
    • Flower – My favorite flower is the white petunia.  Be sure to pick the dead blooms off periodically.  They do get leggy by late summer but last from March until then.
    • Spiller – My addition to spill over the sides is the potato vine.  I do trim it down because I don’t like things draped all on the ground though.  The potato vine lasts until it freezes and really fills in the pot.  I like this with the petunia because when the petunia starts look terrible in late summer you can just pull that out and the potato vine as pretty much filled the whole pot in.  I love the green and purple varieties and use both.
    • Height – The last thing I like to have is something to give a little height.  I feel SO bad that I don’t know the name of that green grassy thing but it is a great option for this.
  • I do not religiously water my pots and they do well.  I have put some of the water bulbs in a few of them and that definitely helps.
  • I stick to green and white in all of my flowers and shrubs and pots because I like things that match.  HA!  I also decorate for every holiday and it would slay me to have pink flowering pots with a candy corn on my door.

From one black thumb to possibly a few more, I sincerely hope this helps :-)  And, if YOU have a favorite flower, shrub or the likes for hot humid southern summers, please share with us in the comments!!

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17 thoughts on “Favorite Plants + Tips for Every Black Thumb

  1. This post makes me think we could be friends! I, too, plant things and can’t remember what they’re called.
    I’ve already been to Lowes and Walmart for blooming plants, but they’re aren’t too many choices yet. I always get anxious this time of year to fill my pots. I love most colors and just buy what strikes my fancy. I never thought about putting shamrock plants outside. Next year I’ll decorate with some since I know I can put them out later. (I don’t have any more room for plants inside.)
    I have a funny shamrock story for you. Years ago my dad was given a plant while he was in the hospital. My mom had a green thumb and kept that plant alive for over years. When they went to FL for the winter, they would bring it to me to “plant sit”. Eventually, I moved closer to them and could just check on their house and plants during the winter. Can you guess what happened? I forgot the plant. When I went to get their house ready for them to come home, it had died. Now fortunately, this was at the end of March so I searched for another shamrock and was able to find one and hoped they wouldn’t notice the difference. As far as I know, they never did!

  2. You’re pots always look lovely – green and white is perfect for summer, and potato vine never misses! I think your tall thing is a dracenea spike. 😊

    I do ferns on my front porch as well, and I’ve planted some ‘Florida Cardinal’ caladiums in pots on the driveway… and that’s all I’m doing for pots this year. I never keep up with the watering! 🙄

  3. Someone told me years ago that every decorative pot should have a thriller (spike plant), a filler (pansies), and a spiller (potato vine). So, your pots are perfect! I have had great luck with Million Bells and I love using Asparagus fern. Thanks for sharing!

  4. If you’re looking for new outdoor/patio furniture this year, check out aeoutdoor.com. They’re in Marietta, and it’s high quality. (I found it on the Southern Hospitality blog.) I figured since they are Atlanta-based, I would check craigslist for some second-hand (because I definitely didn’t want to pay the retail price!). Imagine my surprise when I found out that they sell seconds directly at their warehouse. We drove over from MS and bought over $4K worth of patio furniture for under $1K. In our situation, our furniture was brand new- it was considered a second because it had been ordered online and the order cancelled before it was ever shipped. It was literally wrapped up & brand new. It would definitely be worth browsing their website to see what they have and then calling them to see if they have any seconds/wholesale.

  5. Here in the Kansas City area, the tall “green grassy thing” in the middle of your pots is called a “spike”. They are sold in all the nurseries and one is always put in the middle of my pots. Your pots are looking nice.

  6. I enjoy reading your blog, & your house is beautiful, inside & out. Here in Kentucky, I buy a tall spiky plant for my planters. My garden center calls them spikes. I don’t know the botanical name for them, but they seem similar to yours. I really like the look they add to a planter.

  7. Too funny!! The name of the spikey plant is actually…. a spike!!!! In Wisconsin it is still a bit too early to plant. But the grass is green, and everything is budded. Hallelujah!!

  8. Love all your spring plants, they look so pretty! I wanted to let you know we got back from our Spring Break in Savannah trip yesterday and it was so much fun thanks to your wonderful ideas!! We hit a lot of your recommendations like River Street, Leopald’s Ice Cream, GA Train Museum and Children’s Museum, Back in the Day Bakery, and Sugar Shack at Tybee Island. My girls had a wonderful time, thanks for your fabulous recommendations on the blog! Have a great week Amanda :-)

  9. “Spikes” for the win. That’s what I call them too. Good tip about using just white plants so they coordinate with your seasonal decor. I can’t do it though; I love my colorful flowers too much, so everything ends up clashing on the 4th of July, start of school, fall…Oh well!!

  10. I’ll preface this with I live in FL so we rarely (maybe 2 nights a year) get to freezing…but my go-to porch mix are pink mandevilla with blue million bells. If possible I buy every plant from Proven Winners. I still have some returning from my plantings in Spring 2013! They are the best drought and cold resistant plants I have found. In the summer they spring back from crazy heat, direct sunlight and in the winter they brown back but never die. They are a tad more expensive, but now I buy only a couple of fillers each year because my porch rail boxes come springing back to life in March.

    1. That’s amazing! Even my shrubs have had a tough go of it here lately with getting one bad layer of snow/ice each year.

  11. My secret that I stole from a neighbor with a gorgeous front garden, mix in a few FAKE FLOWERS FROM DOLLAR TREE! I kid you not! I add a few fake hydrangeas in with my real pansies and always a spike in the middle. The pots look stunning from the street and will stay in bloom thru the fall when I swap in fake mums (again from Dollar Tree!)

  12. Always love your posts, Amanda! The spike plant is called Dracaena, and it is the most versatile “thriller” plant I’ve ever used! It actually will come back as a perennial here in Richmond, VA, if you let the winter sun warm the pot soil. So, it’s pretty and frugal!

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