You have a dilemma: you have not filled all of your patio pots and hanging baskets but your gardening/ plant budget is shot! This is a common conundrum faced by many gardeners as we near the end of the planting season. Where did all my plant money go and what can I do to avoid incurring more expense while still being able to plant those empty containers?
Maybe it is my “making do” training that I gleaned from living on a not-so-prosperous farm in my youth; if you didn’t have something you either made it from something you had on hand or did without. In this day and age, people are not too eager to do without, but there are ways to fill those empty pots and at the same time not break the bank. The solution is a simple one: just take a hard look at your perennial borders and find things that you already have that will perform well in containers.
The trick is to find plants that will be presentable all summer, although the great advantage of containers is that if the plants begin to flag, another can be put in its place.
For the past few years, I have used one particular perennial in several of my containers, not out of necessity but because the plant makes a terrific pot plant. The plant is creeping Jenny, Lysmachia Nummularia. The first word of its Latin name indicates it is a member of the buttercup family; the latter word means “to resemble a coin.”
It is no surprise, therefore, that its common name is moneywort. It is a perennial ground cover whose height rarely exceeds six cm. Its round, penny-sized leaves are shiny green, although there is a golden variety called “Aurea” which has bright-chartreuse leaf colour. Slender stems snake out from the centre of the plant and as they do they root at each node. The plant can be somewhat invasive and can spread a couple of metres each way by season’s end. In midsummer, creeping Jenny sports small, upturned, five-lobed, bright-yellow flowers.
You can easily dig a plant of creeping Jenny from the flower border – in the spring the old evergreen foliage may have died back, but if not I cut it off anyway as the plant will soon put forth lots of nice new attractive growth. I plant several pieces around the outside edge of a 10-to 12-inch pot. I set the pot on a simple pedestal about a metre and a half high in the mixed border wherever there seems to be a gap. I have also used pieces of creeping Jenny in mixed planters, tall urns and hanging baskets wherever a trailer is needed.
By midsummer, creeping Jenny will have sent a cascade of stems down the side of the container – particularly if adequate water and fertilizer are used, and when the flowers appear, there is a full bank of foliage as a backdrop. The shiny-green foliage is the main feature of the plant and even after the blooms fade the plant is attractive. If the stems get too long – which they often do by August, they can simply be snipped back.
At the end of the season the creeping Jenny plants can be put into the garden for the winter if you want to save them. They will be waiting for you next spring after the snow melts and you might be like me and find that you want to include some creeping Jenny in your containers every year, not just on those occasions when you have gone broke buying other plants!
– Albert Parsons writes from Minnedosa, Manitoba