To brighten my shady patio, I plant and maintain around 50 pots of annuals each year, clustered by the posts to the deck and beside my hammock. Their schedule goes something like this:
The empty pots are stored upside down under my deck all winter, and hauled out in March. Now's the time! Yesterday I raked and swept the patio, positioned the pots, filled them halfway with homemade compost, and proceeded to top off with purchased potting soil. I prefer Miracle-Gro or similar products, with fertilizer already incorporated. To cut watering chores, I add Soil-Moist to the uppermost layer. I give the soil a week or so to settle, then pop in the annuals. For now it's just pansies, but in a few weeks it'll be the geraniums, coleus, and abutilon I wintered over, as well as purchased croton, New Guinea impatiens, and other interesting annuals. These I like to get from Hollandia, which has a fabulous selection, but also at Bethel Food, selected from their indoor plant area.
My potted cast of characters changes from year to year, but is a constant source of joy as I laze (all too infrequently, alas!) in my hammock.
Maintenance is easy. I keep an attractive watering can (French Blue, from Gardener's Supply) handy, and douse the pots as they need it. Most of what I grow doesn't require deadheading, although I do deer repel regularly. I try to vary the height and size of the pots, and the color and texture of the plants, so as to keep the display intriguing.
At the end of the season, the plants are either composted (most), cuttings taken for overwintering (coleus, abuitlon), or pulled up for cold storage in the garage (geranium). The depleted potting soil is dumped on garden beds to soften bulb-planting areas, and pots are again stored under the deck, to await Fair Spring.
Which, my friends, is now here!