You have two basic options for sprucing up your patio with plants – you can plant in the ground around your hardscape, or you can bring plants onto your patio with container gardening. Planting in the ground is simple, and preserves all of your patio space for furniture, an outdoor kitchen, firepit or other amenities. Container gardening, though, makes it easier to swap out plants, and to protect your plants from the weather by covering them or bringing them inside.
To successfully grow beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables through all of Oklahoma City’s seasons, container gardening can be a distinct advantage.
Oklahoma’s summer heat can make gardening a challenge. Your beets can be re-sown in the summer to be picked and eaten in the fall, as can cauliflower, lettuce and spinach. For most vegetables, though, summer is a time of ripening and picking, making summer the most delicious of all the seasons.
Sun-tolerant flowers include the aptly-named sunflowers, globe amaranth (which are both heat and drought resistant), and lantana, which will thrive under the sun and also attract butterflies to your backyard.
No summer flower recommendation would be complete without Oklahoma’s official State Wildflower, the Blanket Flower. This flower is also heat and drought tolerant is also known to bring butterflies.
Summer’s heat can last well into September across Oklahoma, but autumn is still a great time to plant winter vegetables, and spring bulbs. We recommend growing lettuce and spinach in the fall, as well as Irish potatoes. Garlic, mustard greens, and radishes can all be planted in the fall.
As the temperatures dip, it’s time to start thinking about hardier flowers. The fall classic is the mum, which can famously be seen blooming for a few short weeks on the campus of the University of Oklahoma.
Other good fall flower options are snapdragons and pansies. Planting these beautiful flowers in containers means you can bring them inside in case of an early frost, and bring them back out on the warmer autumn days.
Winter doesn’t have to be dreary if you choose to grow cold-hardy flowers and foliage in containers. Your best bet is the colorful calendula, which can be planted in late fall, and has been known to last all winter in milder climates. In Oklahoma, you should bring the plants inside during freezing weather, but these brightly-colored flowers will be a cheerful addition to your outdoor space on moderate days. Cyclamen’s star-shaped heads are a great winter flower – they thrive in partial shade, and can stand being planted in both containers and beds. Cyclamen can survive brief periods of freezing weather, particularly if they are covered in snow. Oklahoma City lies in Zone 7a of the USDA’s plant hardiness map, and cyclamen have been known to grown in zones as cold as Zone 4.
For a different look, plant ornamental kale in the winter – their purple color will intensify as the temperatures drop, and their form is a great counterpoints to taller flowers. It is recommended to cover your kale if the forecast calls for freezing rain, as the leaves will react poorly to being frozen for extended periods.
During the winter, you can also plant seeds indoors to enliven your spring patio time. Temperatures are warming, and spring rains will feed your plants all season long. Those same spring showers, though, can be a major threat to your plants. Especially in Oklahoma’s spring storm season, it’s important to protect plants from hail and high wind.
We favor flowers like daisies, which bloom well in containers, and which can handle some seasonally cool weather. Some daisies have been known to bloom all the way in to fall, making them a great addition to your planting plans. Tulips are a traditional spring flower – choose plants with tight buds, so you can enjoy their unfurling.
For a bright highlight, plant ranunculus bulbs in autumn for a beautiful spring bloom. These hardy plants grow well in zones 4-9.
Spring is a great time to start a container garden for summer vegetables. Beets can be planted in early spring and harvested in summer, and can be planted again in summer for a fall harvest. Many vegetables grown in containers will need to be staked or caged, like tomatoes and eggplants.
Both lettuce and arugula can be grown in containers during the spring season, making for fresh and delicious salads well into the summer.