It is always fun to add an instant splash of color to a garden with annual flowers. Yet, sometimes there are difficult spots where plants just won’t grow, whether beneath a large tree where roots outcompete or on a patio where planting in ground just isn’t an option. Fortunately, we can use containers to give plants a beneficial place to stretch their roots so we’re able to enjoy the color and enlivenment they provide.
If you haven’t considered container gardening before, think about the versatility. Consider not only where they can be used, but also what can be planted in them, not to mention practically anything can be used as a container! Containers can add instant color, movement, and texture to: gardens, patios, decks, porches, doors, windows, balconies, and small urban areas. They work well in tough sites: shade, poor soil, around hardscape areas, in high traffic areas, and under porches and overhangs. Any plant type can be used in containers: annuals, perennials, vines, trees and shrubs, vegetables, tropicals, succulents, wildflowers, etc. I’ve even seen an invasive weed display grown in containers as an educational tool at an arboretum! Advantageously, planting in containers can allow one to try new things, push the limits of hardiness, give low growing plants a different view and they’re able to be grouped or moved. Furthermore, there are not limits to what has been/can be used to plant in! From the most decorative urns and ceramic planters, to tires, toilets, and bathtubs! Container gardening is a fun and creative avenue of gardening.
Here are a few design tips for containers:
• A well designed container consists of three types of plant forms: thriller, filler, and spiller.
A thriller is the focal point of your container typically because of height, flowers, or some bold characteristic that is really eye‐catching.
Filler plants balance the height differences between the thriller and spiller.
Spiller plants drape over the edges of containers, softening the look.
• Mix plants with at least three different textures of foliage for interest, and incorporate plants for their foliage, not just flowers.
• Select plants that have the same cultural needs! Sun or shade and moisture requirements.
• Larger containers are easier to keep plants in for longer times.
• Smaller containers will need to be watered more often.
• When grouping containers, simplify the plantings in individual containers. Repeat plants for continuity.
Always allow for proper drainage! Once containers are planted the maintenance process begins!
• Water, water, water! I just came across a gardening tip in which sponges were used in the bottoms of containers to retain water. A tip I’m definitely trying out next year!
• Groom and prune as needed. It may be necessary to cut back plants growing faster than others to keep balance and competition in check.
• Fertilize as needed
• Watch for pests and diseases. Treat as needed. For example, while doing a routine check of my newly planted annuals and containers I encountered a pest problem, (thus leading to a fit of anger and blood pressure problem).
The culprit? Most likely a raccoon that destroyed my container grouping on the spa patio.
The solution? I’ll tell you chili powder was not an effective solution. This was my initial action, but the following morning brought nearly the same image as above. Thus far, chicken wire has been the solution.
I cut pieces of chicken wire to lie across the tops of the containers. Planting below the lip of the container allows the chicken wire to stay in place and not be lifted out.
Just cut and bend the wire to create pockets to plant in.
Eventually, the plants will grow and disguise the wire. Alternatively, a light layer of mulch covers the wire and is not only an aesthetic application, but will help with moisture retention as well!
Upon checking the containers the next morning, the grouping was untouched but one! I think with a bit more securing of the chicken wire, this will be the solution! I was just happy to see the plants had stayed in the containers and weren’t strewn all over the ground!
So get container gardening! Add color and enlivenment to otherwise rough, tough, or barren spaces! Let your creativity drive you, and remember thrillers, fillers, and spillers when planning your pots. There is some work to it, but remember most importantly to give proper drainage and keep them watered!
Happy container gardening!