Mt Cuba Center
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Mt Cuba Center
Back to News Updates – August 31, 2022


Formal Garden: Container Plants

By Alana Pugh

When looking where to site native plants in the garden, containers are too often a forgotten option. Throughout the formal gardens at Mt. Cuba Center, however, a diverse array of native plants flourish in containers. This allows horticulturists a creative avenue to feature plants both individually and within a group context, all the while adding inventive layers to the areas they are placed. Containers at Mt. Cuba change from month to month, highlighting what is blooming within the gardens at large.

Here are three native plants showcased in containers at Mt. Cuba for the end of summer:

Copeland House entrance is lined by bright yellow blooms of 'American Goldrush' in containers.

  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida ‘American gold rush’)
    • More than just friendly faces wait to greet guests at the front entrance of the Copeland House. Cheery, golden yellow black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia fulgida) line the stairs to the main door, inviting all visitors inside. The symmetrical layout of the containers on either side is aesthetically appealing, while the uniform height and color of black-eyed Susans creates a striking view. When growing these plants in containers, make sure to pick out one with plenty of room and sufficient drainage, and display them in areas of full sun while providing them with plenty of water.

  • Green and purple pitcher plants
    • Guests are greeted with the long, eye-catching bodies of green and purple (Sarracenia oreophila and Sarracenia purpurea, respectively) on the South Terrace. Their attraction is three-fold — their stunning colors and unique shape provide just as much interest as their feeding habits. Carnivorous plants are sure to pique anyone’s interest, especially when they are the stars of containers. Pitcher plants are bog-dwelling plants, so moist, acidic soil conditions are a requirement to successfully grow them in containers. Place them in areas of sun and be sure to grow them in a container with proper space and drainage.

Ornate container features plant with small, yellow flowers.

  • Burgundy Mist lance leaf loosestrife (Steironema lanceolatum ‘Burgundy Mist’)
    • This final container plant feature is one that Michael Strengari, senior horticulturist, finds incredibly dynamic, but can be hard-to-find commercially. Burgundy Mist lance leaf loosestrife (Steironema lanceolatum ‘Burgundy Mist’) produces blooms for extended periods. At Mt. Cuba Center, this plant has bloomed for more than two months; providing plenty of time to admire its soft texture, burgundy-red foliage, and yellow, star-shaped flowers. This plant is adaptable and able to perform well in sun or shade. It is, however, notably thirsty and requires moist soil conditions. Give it plenty of room to grow in a container and enjoy this up-and-coming, native cultivar.


Interested in creating more native plant containers and unsure of where to start? Check out the native plant finder for more information about native plants and their ideal growing conditions.