by Jennah Watters, Jennah's Garden
Even when it's not 100 degrees, I've always had a hard time with containers at my house. Most of the house gets full or near-full sun all day long, so while I would love to have bright, full hanging baskets of petunias, geraniums or marigolds on the shepherd's hooks in front of my house, I've come to terms with the fact that it just won't work. They get too much sun and dry out too fast, no matter what I try to do to the basket to keep water in there.
Succulents often get a bad rap because people think they're just cacti or hens and chicks plants. But there are actually many succulents out there with interesting foliage and even flowers. This year, my front yard's hanging baskets are filled with portulaca. Also known as purslane or moss roses, the leaves are edible (though I don't recommend trying a leaf of the ornamentally grown kind, since it likely has lots of unfriendly chemicals on it). There are many different varieties of this beautifully trailing and flowering annual. The small, bright and plentiful flowers open up for the sunshine and close at night.
For containers that have more of an impact up close, try mixing several different kinds of succulents. Hens and chicks plants spread rapidly and pair well with certain kinds of sedum, that trail and can be snipped off, stuck in soil and rooted to create more plants. Lots of succulents are very easy to propagate that way.
Succulents don't require a lot of special care and are very forgiving. A container with good drainage is a must, and often I'll mix some sand in with regular potting soil. Let the pots dry out between watering. Terra cotta pots ' which are notorious for drying out quickly - are great for succulents.