How to spruce up spring containers for summer – 5 ways to refresh your pots

Give your container garden a new lease of life by getting your pots in shape for summer

Spruce up spring containers for summer
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Having a garden brimming with blooms throughout spring and summer is any gardener's dream. But it can be hard to know how to extend the blooming time of your plant display when different plants have different flowering lengths.

Luckily, there are so many different container gardening ideas to explore, so you can select the best plants for what you want to achieve in your space. Whether you want to incorporate the best container plants for pollinators or want to use the best container plants for shade, changing up containers is a great way to get your garden into shape for summer.

We've spoken to garden experts to find out how to spruce up spring containers for summer and give pots a refresh for the warmer months ahead.

Container plants for pollinators

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5 ways to spruce up spring containers for summer

You can give your containers a refresh by changing them up for summer. We've spoken to garden experts who have suggested five ways to spruce up spring containers for summer months.

1. Give your container fresh soil

New soil in container

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Before you even start selecting summer and late summer flowers to plant in your pots, experts suggest checking the health of the potting mix in your containers.

'You should ask yourself how long the soil has been in this same container,' says expert gardener and flower grower, Nicole Dillon. 'Does it need to be completely refreshed or can you amend it with fertilizer and worm castings?' she adds.

Soil health is important for successful growth. The soil type you use for your plants is key to supporting its healthy development because it's the source of many nutrients. If you notice your soil has become tough and won't absorb water, it's an indication you may need to get some new potting soil.

There are lots of potting mixes online for different plants, like this all-purpose potting mix from Perfect Plants Nursery. You can also use a fertilizer to boost the nutrients in your soil, like this all-purpose from Perfect Plant Nursery.

Nicole Dillon
Nicole Dillon

As a passionate flower farmer and gardening enthusiast in Ashland, VA, Nicole specializes in cultivating stunning perennials at her micro cut flower farm, Breemar Flower Farm.

2. Leave plants that will still put on a display in summer

Pansies and violas in container

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Don't rush to get rid of all your spring garden work, as many late-spring blooms and plants will thrive into summer months.

'Many varieties of spring container plants can flower throughout the season,' says gardening expert and botanist Melvin Cubian from Plantin. 'When given the proper care, you can grow peace lilies outdoors, grow lantana, and grow geraniums through spring and into summer,' he adds.

Other spring flowers that bloom through to summer include irises and peonies.

The best thing to do is leave any container plants still going strong to continue enjoying them. Just make sure to keep on top of care and avoid container gardening mistakes to encourage them to thrive for longer.

Melvin Cubian
Melvin Cubian

Melvin is a certified gardening and plant care expert at PlantIn, which provides a personalized experience for anyone interested in planting and gardening. He is also currently studying for his masters degree in Plant Health.

3. Consider removing spent annual bulbs

Flower bulbs

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Unlike foxgloves after flowering and hollyhocks after flowering, which are both perennial and biennials plants, you might consider removing any spent annual bulbs that won't flower again next year.

'You should remove spent spring annuals from pots if you are changing your soil completely,' says Nicole. 'However, if you aren't changing the soil I recommend pruning away the top part of the plant and leaving the root system. This promotes microbial activity within the pot which makes soil healthier,' she adds.

It can be beneficial to leave the spent bulbs to decompose if you have the room in your pot. 'If you pull the entire plant out, you're also removing all the good microorganisms decomposing the root system,' says Nicole.

If you do wish to remove the spent bulbs, it's important to have clean and sharp essential gardening tools to get the job done. Using something like this Fiskars ergo trowel from Amazon, gently lift the bulbs out of the soil.

4. Prune away dead foliage and flowers

Deadhead daffodils

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Getting rid of any dead foliage and flowers will instantly give your pots a refreshed look. Observe your pots for yellowing foliage and spent flowers and use pruning tools, like these Fiskars pruning shears from Amazon, to snip them away.

'Deadheading spent blooms will freshen up your pot and encourage more blooms,' notes Laura Janney, owner at The Inspired Garden.

Removing dead matter from a plant helps to focus energy on the healthy stems, boosting new and further growth. It can often encourage flowers to bloom for a second time in the year. Just take care to avoid making pruning mistakes so that you can successfully rejuvenate your plants.

Laura Janney
Laura Janney

Laura is the Founder and Owner of The Inspired Garden. A winner of the 2024 Houzz Design award, Laura has over 20 years of experience in gardening and working with clients designing beautiful gardens. 

5. Add summer blooms

Chrysanthemums in container

(Image credit: Zen Rial via Getty Images)

Now is the time to plant up any summer blooms you have been growing for your pots. Add new flowers that will thrive in the heat and sun of summer to provide your pots with new color, shape and texture.

Experts suggest choosing plants that will suit the area where your pot is positioned, as well as considering the thriller, spiller, filler container plants method - choosing a mixture of plants of different heights and shapes to create a beautiful potted arrangement.

'For a dry, drought-prone area, I'd recommend planting a small pink muhly grass as the thriller, vinca as the filler and portulaca as the spiller,' says Nicole. 'Vinca and muhly grass are very drought tolerant and portulaca has succulent-like foliage with colorful showy flowers that don't stop until frost,' she adds.

If you are working with a shade garden, or need plants for a shaded balcony, there are still plenty of options. 'For a shade or partially shaded area, I'd recommend caladiums or coleus for a thriller plant, begonias or impatiens for the filler plant and creeping jenny for the spiller,' says Nicole.

Many spring flowers for shade will also bloom into summer and work well in pots.


What is the best time to change up my spring containers for summer?

Experts suggest waiting until the end of spring to change up your containers - both giving your spring plants their time to shine and ensuring temperatures are warm enough to support any summer plants you are introducing to your pots.

'As temperatures start heating up and the soil temperature is above 65°F consistently, it's a good time to switch out your winter and spring plants for more heat-tolerant ones,' says expert gardener and flower grower, Nicole Dillon.

'The plants will also give you an indication that it is time. For example, pansies, one of the most popular cool-weather flowers, will stretch towards the light and become leggy and scraggly looking. This is an indication that the plant is nearing the end of its lifecycle and is ready to be replaced,' she adds.

Giving your soil a boost, tidying up your plants and swapping out spent spring flowers for those that thrive in hotter weather is a great way to spruce up spring containers for summer.

Looking for more ways to get your backyard summer-ready? Discover our expert ideas for sprucing up your backyard.

Tenielle Jordison
News Writer (Gardens)

Tenielle is a News Writer in the Gardens team at Homes & Gardens with five years of journalistic experience. She studied BA Journalism, Media and English Literature and MA Magazine Journalism at Cardiff University. Before coming to Homes & Gardens, Tenielle was in the editorial department at the Royal Horticultural Society and worked on The Garden magazine. She is passionate about sustainable living and likes to encourage gardeners to make greener choices to help tackle the effects of climate change with a trowel in hand. Tenielle is also a houseplant lover who is slowly running out of room for her ever-growing collection.