Ask Burton: Q: This week, we’re looking at containers – with a lot of spring color wearing out in the heat, many people want to freshen up their patio and entryway show for the summer. Q: I had beautiful pots of petunias on my patio, and the past few weeks has made them give up. What can I plant right now that will really go through the heat and work in my containers?

A: There are still a number of good choices you can use, based on your sun exposure, that will tolerate the heat well. Plant selection isn’t all, though! There are a few other tips that will help you keep your container plantings in good condition. Some great choices of plants to use for the heat include pentas, angelonia, coleus, vinca (periwinkles; type matters, use only Cora series for disease resistance), moss rose, and potato vine. But beyond your plant selection, high heat during our summer requires a lot of watering, so here’s a few more recommendations.

First, when planting your containers, mix Soil Moist throughout your potting mixture; this material swells up in contact with water and releases it when the surrounding soil dries, extending how long each watering you do lasts. Next, plant your flowers with Covington’s Flower and Garden fertilizer, putting a small amount in each planting hole. This is a good, slow-release fertilizer that will offset the loss of fertility of your potting soil from heavier summer watering.

To finish your new container, mulch the top of your container just like you would your flower bed in-ground. The type of mulch doesn’t much matter, so use a mulch that matches what you used in the rest of your beds. It’ll look better near your flowerbeds, and conserve moisture and reduce soil temperatures in your pots, making it easier to keep your plants good looking and healthy.

Burton specializes in diagnosing and solving plant problems. If you have a question for Burton, please email him at and include photos showing the problem.