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Party with your plants: Ball Horticultural style

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This post is done in partnership with Ball Horticultural, which not only produces amazing plants, but also throws a mean party. Thank you so much to Ball for a fabulous night.

If you ever wondered how many container combinations could be made with a dozen or so plant options, I can offer an answer: Way more than you might think.

It’s an interesting insight into how gardeners’ tastes vary and how what we do with plants will always be specific to our own tastes and preferences. 

Group of gardeners holding containers they designed
The potting party guests show off their creations.

I had the opportunity to “research” the topic of container gardening recently when Ball Horticultural (family-owned, woman-run, international horticultural company responsible for some of the gardening brands you know well like Wave Gardening, Beacon Impatiens, Burpee Home Gardens and more) asked me to invite some of my local gardening followers for a potting party. Basically, they threw a gardeners’ dream party for a bunch of plant nuts.

There was tasty food, a fabulous cucumber-watermelon mojito (or a mocktail version) and friendly folks all around, but the highlight was the chance to dig into the load of plants, including some new releases for next year, and have every guest create their own dream container. 

THE PLANTS

The Ball team brought an a great selection of plants for partiers to choose from, with a focus on plants featuring the Pantone Color of the Year Viva Magenta, such as Sombrero Poco Hot Pink Echinacea from Darwin Perennials, or the plants that are easy on your pocketbook and will last the whole summer, such as Hula Begonia from PanAmerican Seed. The Jurassic Rex begonias were absolutely stunning, and, as the Ball team pointed out, make great houseplants that are more interesting than your average green plant. 

Some of the plants party-goers were able to choose from included Echinacea Sombrero Poco Yellow, Jurassic Dino Black Tie Rex Begonia, Beacon Impatiens Lipstick, Angelonia Alonia Big Snow, Hula Begonia and, new for next year, Petunia Headliner Violet Sky.

Party-goers were welcome to pick a pot from a selection provided by Heyden’s Gardens, the local garden center where the event was held, and then “shop” the racks of plants provided by Ball. It was so interesting to see what people gravitated toward.

Shopping the racks of Ball plants to make containers. And yes, those were some fun gift bags waiting in the wings.

There were some plants that emerged as clear favorites. Angelonia Alonia Big Snow, a stout little upright number, seemed to end up in many container, as did ‘Blue Spear’ lavender‘Blue Spear’ lavender. One table of partiers all used both of these plants in their containers and then went different directions for other accent plants. Some went with a  mostly white look, adding in Easy Wave White petunia, which maintains a nice, neat habit. Others went for the classic combination of white, blue and yellow by adding in Bee’s Knees Petunia, a fabulous soft yellow Petunia that is also an All-America Selections winner.

The gardeners at one table were clearly into the white and blue color scheme, starting with Angelonia and lavender and then adding in accents.

Shade containers were equally creative and varied, but many featured the absolutely spectacular Jurassic Rex Begonia series, which I fell in love with last year after I saw them at the Gardens at Ball display gardens in West Chicago, Illinois. They are certainly substantial enough to fill a container on their own, but some gardeners at the potting party added in Hula Begonia (which I grew last year and also gets quite sizable) or Beacon Impatiens, which are downy mildew resistant Impatiens walleriana, which, until Beacons came along, made the plant inappropriate for growing in many areas because the non-Beacon version could, and often was, wiped out in a matter of days when affected by the disease.  

Jurassic Dino Black Sky rex begonia with Hula begonia and Splash Select White Hypoestes.

And then there were others who went a completely different direction. One gardener created an edible container featuring Quick Snack cucumber, a 2024 introduction for the Kitchen Minis line of potted vegetables appropriate for growing indoors or in small areas. She added in Everleaf Thai Towers basil (a sister to my very favorite must-grow basil Everleaf Emerald Towers) and an Easy Wave petunia for a bit of color.

An edible container featuring Quick Snack cucumber is perfect for a small-space gardener.

IT’S A PARTY!

Ball knows how to throw a party, so there was a fabulous spread of delicious bites, but also a refreshing watermelon cucumber mojito (here’s a similar recipe if you want to try it), poured out of a watering can, in keeping with the theme.

A watermelon mojito cocktail with pansy garnish
The watermelon cucumber mojitos were delicious.

But what was even better was watching a group of gardeners, most of whom didn’t know each other, just enjoy creating something with plants together. And boy did they create. Check out their designs.

I spy a lot of Bee’s Knees petunia here, but everyone did something a little different.
Can you tell they were having a good time?
The blue and white table, but isn’t it interesting how even though they all started with the same two plants, all their containers ended up a little different and with their own, personal touches.
Britt told me that most of her garden is green so she wanted to go with a lot of color for her container.

CONTAINER OBSERVATIONS

Studying all these container designs was so interesting and I left with a great appreciation for how certain plants could really shine in their role in a container. A few notable observations:

  • Alternanthera Purple Prince is an excellent uniter. Used with white and blue combinations, but also with hotter color combos, it worked as the perfect accent in every scenario.
  • Don’t sell polka dot plant (Hypoestes) short. It was incredible at punching up shade containers without competing with the stars of the show. 
  • Combining annuals and perennials is a fabulous way to change up a design but still have season long interest. The containers that incorporated Sombrero Poco Echinacea, which is shorter growing and therefore excellent for containers, along with more common annuals, were so interesting. 
  • Bring in the edibles. A lot of party-goers incorporated Everleaf Thai Towers basil right in with annuals and it was not only beautiful but also practical.
  • Don’t underestimate plants that start small. Having grown both Beacon Impatiens and Hula Begonia, I can attest to how wonderfully these plants fill out when they have a bit of time to grow. But you’ll often find them in smaller sizes when you buy them, which isn’t a bad thing because they can be a bit fragile for transportation. I know that the people who used these in their designs will have an incredible display in a couple weeks.

THE PARTY’S NOT OVER

Needless to say an excellent time was had by all and I’ve never seen people leave a party happier than when they walked out with their fabulous containers. Many party-goers have great gardening Instagram accounts and will hopefully be showing how their containers look as they grow on. Follow the hashtag #ballpottingparty on Instagram so you can catch the updates.

I think I’ve found the perfect party theme. Gardening together with new and old friends is a true joy. Thanks, Ball Horticultural, for bringing people together through plants and the occasional party.

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