February is a divisive time of year in the garden world. In some warmer regions, February looks an awful lot like spring - a little cool, but pretty spring-like. While in other parts of the country, February is solidly winter. Some parts of the country can act a lot like spring for a while, and then WHAM, a sudden cold snap that annoyingly takes out your attempt to get your garden started a tad early. If you’re wanting to get into the garden ASAP and have a tolerance for risk, putting together a few patio containers might be your answer. What you grow in those patio containers is going to change depending on your region, but a particularly good candidate is Bacopa.
Bacopa is floriferous trailing plant with blueish-green leaves and either white, pink, or blue flowers. It looks great in hanging baskets. You can put all the same color, or you can mix two or three of the colors for a monocrop hanging basket. Bacopa is also a wonderful combination component. What you combine it with will depend a little on your region, but some good options include geraniums, petunias, calibrachoa, or lobelia. Really let your imagination run wild here, as bacopa plays nice in most combinations. Get creative with patio containers. Large tall pots can let the Bacopa spill over, or window boxes can also showcase a trailing Bacopa. When the risk of frost has passed, you can also plant it in the ground. However, this blog post will be focusing on container care specifically.
Bacopa is not frost tolerant, which makes a February planting risky. However, if you are planting in patio containers, you have more flexibility. A protected patio will often not get as cold as an open garden bed, so if you are feeling really brave you can risk leaving it outside to fend for itself. You could take the additional step of covering it with a sheet for frost protection, or bring the pot into the house or garage on really cold nights.
In the cooler months give it full sun, or at least six hours a day. Once it gets to summer temperatures, the Bacopa will do better with a little afternoon shade.
A well-drained potting soil is perfect for Bacopa and most other flowers you might want to put in the combination.
Use a balanced fertilizer for flowers in containers. I like to apply it at half the rate a few weeks post-transplant, and then not again unless I suspect nutritional problems.
Bacopa don’t like soggy roots, but they also like a lot of water. Water enough to wet the soil thoroughly, but let the soil drain and dry out in between watering. Try not to get water on the leaves to prevent fungal diseases. Remember: watering in the winter is different than watering in the summer. Plants need less water this time of year but will often get more from rainfall, which is another good reason to make sure your pots drain well.
Pets & Diseases
Bacopa can be slightly prone to powdery mildew. Try not to splash water on the leaves to prevent it in the first place. Clip off and throw away any infected leaves or stems. In the spring and summer, Bacopa can be attractive to white flies, but in the cooler months these pests are not outside.
You can pluck off flowers when they are spent to keep the plant looking cleaned up, but that isn’t strictly necessary.
Bacopa is a great combination component. Valentine’s day and President’s Day are great excuses to get creative with Bacopa and liven up your patio as a prelude to gardening season.