What Are Good Container Flowers for Northern California?

Bolivian Begonia is an excellent container garden flower that can be overwintered indoors. (Image by Jessie Keith)

“I rent my house but I have always wanted to grow a flower garden. What’s the best way to grow flowers in containers that are movable and what kind of flowers grow best in containers?” Question from Jenna of Magalia, California

Answer: Container gardening is certainly the best option for renters. If you really want to create a movable garden, start with quality pots that will be easy to transport in a move. Choose large containers for vegetables or multiple flowers. The larger the pot, the more plants you can grow in it. Thick, glazed ceramic containers resist weathering and retain water well.

I determined that you have warm, dry, mostly clear summers and cold, wet, partly cloudy winters with temperatures that range from 33°F to 88°F–rarely dipping below 25°F or above 96°F. Considering your drier summers and cool, wet winters, here are five drought-tolerant container perennials that should grow well for you in pots.

Annie’s Annuals, which is based in Richmond, California is one of the coolest mailorder flower nurseries around, and they sell loads of flowers suited to your climate. I recommend visiting to get ideas.

Planting Flower Containers

Choose plants that you like and pair them according to color, size, height, and texture. A good potting mix for drier climates is Black Gold Waterhold Cocoblend, which has excellent porosity, water-holding ability, and is OMRI Listed for organic gardening. Keep in mind, containers need regular water, even if you plant drought-tolerant plants, so plan to water your containers daily or once every couple of days. Feed them with plant food for flowers, such as Proven Winners® Premium Water Soluble Plant Food for Flowering Plants. Once hard cold hits, trim back any dead or dying stems to keep your pots tidy through winter.

I hope that this helps.

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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