No space? No problem! Living in a senior apartment doesn’t mean your dirt-digging days are behind you or that it’s too late to discover your inner green thumb. Whether you’re new to planting or a seasoned expert, container gardening is ideal for seniors who have little or no garden space.
While planting a garden takes time and attention, it’s a perfect way to add some blooms of color and ambiance to your balcony, patio or window boxes. Plus, there are gardens that will fit with any lifestyle.
Follow these container gardening tips, and it won’t be long before you’re creating your own flourishing garden. In addition to growing flowers, you can also produce a variety of veggies and herbs in pots.
With the hot, humid and storm-prone summers of Texas, attractive and functional native plants are your best bet for container gardening success. They’re naturally adapted to preexisting weather conditions, which means they’re drought, heat and stress tolerant, as well as requiring less maintenance and water than nonnative varieties.
In addition to helping you save time and money, native Texas flowering plants are more sustainable and beneficial to wildlife and the surrounding natural habitat of your senior apartment.
List of Texas native plants
Here are some tree, shrub, grass and flower Texas native plants to consider.
Eastern Purple Coneflower: These drought-tolerant butterfly magnets will perform well in your garden. Their iridescent cones bloom soft lavender petals spring through summer.
Black-Eyed Susan: A cheerful perennial winner in any Texas garden. These drought-tolerant golden yellow flowers with black centers offer long-lasting and continuous blooms.
Inland Sea Oats: A shade-loving and low-maintenance ornamental perennial grass. Known for its large seed heads and blue-green bamboo-like leaves.
Southern Wax Myrtle: Featuring attractive gray bark and light olive green foliage. These multitrunked evergreen shrubs offer a spicy fragrance and are ideal for shielding areas from view.
Pride of Houston Yaupon Holly: This small tree is drought tolerant with dark green leaves and pale gray bark with white blotches. Female plants produce red berries in the winter that are good for wildlife and make beautiful holiday displays.
Texas Lantana: Enjoy yellow and orange flowers that are attractive to butterflies and bloom summer through fall. Drought tolerant, salt tolerant and deer resistant.
Red Turk’s Cap: This native shrub of Texas and Mexico features bright red hibiscus-like flowers that resemble a Turkish turban (hence the name). Ideal for shady spots.
Texas Olive: A fast-growing native tree with continuously blooming large white flowers. This drought-tolerant tree (once it’s established) also produces purple fruit enjoyed by wildlife.
Autumn Sage: This good food source for hummingbirds has red flowers that bloom continuously from late spring until hard frost. A tough, drought-tolerant perennial with pale green small leaves that prefers full to part sun.
Gulf Coast Muhly: A native ornamental grass that provides soft, graceful movement and purple spikelets that turn feathery and deep pink in the fall. Its large seed head grows about half as tall as the entire plant.
Red Yucca: Hummingbirds are attracted to these drought-tolerant succulents ready for planting any time of year. They feature small red flowers on drooping large stalks that bloom throughout the summer.
Rock Rose: This flowering plant produces pink and yellow blooms, is deer resistant and ideal for shady areas.
Types of containers
Every home garden has its own personality that comes from unique touches — from unusual plant combinations to fun containers made from recycled or repurposed found items. Most vegetables, flowers, herbs, shrubs or small trees can grow and thrive in a container.
For distinctive and colorful effects, combine upright and trailing plants, edibles and flowers. Or, to complement your garden, load up an outdoor plant table with trinkets and natural treasures such colorful old-timey medicine bottles, rocks, garden art and shells.
When it comes to types of containers, anything that holds soil and drains can be used — so get creative!
- Clay, terra cotta, ceramic and cast concrete: Teapots, stacked teacups, saucers, urns, pots, planters, bowls, cinder blocks.
- Wood: Old chairs, farmhouse doors and garden ladders, hanging picture frames, window frames, birdhouses, pallets, and tree stumps.
- Metals: Antique birdcages, kettles, buckets, lunchboxes, cake tier stands, watering cans, paint cans, colanders, wire dress forms, old horse buggies, toolboxes, little red wagons, vintage toy trucks.
- Other: Chandeliers; vintage tubs; old Wellington boots; wine corks; painted car tires; and antique, vintage, and modern wheelbarrows and wheeled carts.
15 container gardening tips and tricks
- For your plants to thrive, you’ll need to add fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro.
- Make sure your pot has a big enough hole or holes for water to get out.
- Before choosing your plants, know how much light your container will get.
- Use light-colored containers for hot climates to help keep the soil cooler.
- Hanging baskets are more prone to drying out, especially during the summer months. Put them on pulleys for easy watering.
- Containers resting on the ground without saucers won’t drain as well.
- When planting multiple plants in one container, make sure they all need the same amount of light and water.
- There may come a day when you have to say RIP to your green friends. It’s a gardening fact of life; sometimes plants die. Know when to keep trying and when it’s time to toss it.
- Make a list of the plants you want to buy before heading to the nursery. Note the number of pots you’ll need and their sizes. Use your phone to take photos of your pots.
- When planting a garden on a balcony or patio, be sure to check how much weight the structure can hold.
- Place large heavy pots on a platform with wheels so they’re easier to move.
- Container gardens can be enjoyed for one season and discarded, or designed to last long term.
- Check yard sales, antique shops and secondhand stores for ideas to display your window box and garden plants.
- Always use potting soil over other fillers such as packing peanuts or milk jugs.
- Read and save plant tags — the information they contain is critical for the plant’s success.
Here at Presbyterian Village North, we’re a community of diggers, garden gods and goddesses, and green thumbs. We have a greenhouse for our residents and hand out flowers for gardeners to plant to help keep our senior living community blooming! Contact us today to learn more about how retirement life’s a garden at The Village.