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You Can Grow It: Spring bloomers that don't mind cool weather

Learn how to put together a nice colorful container of flowers for under $10. A similar pre-planted container from the store could cost you from $20 to $40.

BOISE, Idaho —

As the old song says, 'spring is bustin' out all over.'  Shrubs and trees are blossoming and leafing out, and blooms are coming up in the flower beds.  But some are anxious to see even more color. Learn how to put together some planters full of bright spring flowers. 

These spring bloomers don't mind the cool weather.  In fact, they thrive in it, blooming from now on into May and June before the weather turns hot, and they're not only bright and colorful, but they smell great, too. 

Garden centers have lots of colorful flowers available for planting now, and they also sell some beautiful pre-planted containers, but you'll save a lot of money, and get the kinds of flowers you want, by doing it yourself.  You can put together a nice colorful container of flowers for under $10.  A similar pre-planted container from the store could cost you from $20 to $40. 

Here's an assortment of early spring bloomers that will do great in containers.  They're easy to find at any nursery or garden center, and buying in multi-packs will save you money, and allow you to plant several containers.    

Let's start with primroses. The Latin name, 'prima rosa,' means 'first rose.'  They come in lots of shapes, sizes, and colors, ranging from white to yellow to pink to purple.  They're easy to grow and they tolerate the cold well, but once it starts to get hot, the blooms will slow down.  Be sure to give them a little room to spread out. 

Pansies, and their smaller cousins, the violas, also do well in containers.  They are great by themselves, but they also go well mixed with other flowering plants.  Traditionally, pansies and violas have bold, solid colors, but they often come with multi- colored faces with a splotch of contrasting colors, and they'll keep blooming even when temperatures dip below freezing.

A great companion plant is the snapdragon.  They get their name because the flowers look like the face of a dragon opening its mouth.  Snapdragons' flower spikes will give a little height to the rest of the container.  They also come in a wide range of colors.

Then there are dianthus, also known as sweet william.  Dianthus is part of the carnation family, offering pretty pink, salmon, red or white flowers.  Like the snapdragon, it comes in a dwarf variety that will do really well in containers.  It doesn't mind cool weather, but it won't tolerate frost. 

For a little contrast without the flowers, silvery mound, also known as artemesia, offers a nice touch with its silvery-grey foliage. 

Putting a spring planter together is easy, in fact, primroses can be left in their original containers, and then set them in this rustic wooden box, and fill in with some dried spaghnam moss. It's quick and easy, but make sure to keep the soil moist so the plants don't dry out. 

If you want to plant them in soil, be sure to choose a container with enough room for the flowers to fill out and spread a bit.  Better to have a larger pot than one that's too small.  Ensure the container has adequate drainage holes, or add a few inches of gravel to the bottom. 

Fill the bottom two-thirds or so of the container with some moistened potting mix. 

After removing the plants from their containers, carefully separate the roots a bit to encourage more growth.  Arrange the plants in the new container and gently tamp the soil around them.  Avoid over-planting to prevent choking out the roots and drying out too quickly.  Then fill in with additional soil. 

Gently water until it begins to drain from the holes.  Containers tend to dry out faster than ground plantings. 

Finally, fertilize about once a month with a general-purpose fertilizer, since soil nutrients get used up or washed out during waterings. 

In no time at all, and with a lot less expense, you can create your own unique container plantings to dress up your outdoor living space.

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