Creative Containers and
The How-to's of Container Gardening
Choosing a Pot
- you can add a lot of flair, or keep it simple. If your planting design is simple, consider a container that is flashy, patterned, or a unique shape. If your planting design is interesting and eye catching on its own, go for a simple pot style so as to not detract from your creative display.
- proper drainage is important. It must have a way to drain unless you are going to be very careful not to over water it. Some succulents can do fine in a sealed pot, but do not over water or you will risk rotting the roots. Any container that will be outside without a roof over it should have a drainage hole.
- pots vary in weight. Some huge planters are actually quite light. Keep in mind that the soil and plants adds weight, so plan out how you will get your planters to their display positions. You may want to think more about inserts (can be multiple per pot if you have suitable filler to cover up your trick!, or a group of strong lifters for the final positioning of your containers.
Filling the Pot
- fill it with high quality soil that is most suited for the plants you choose. Ask for help at a garden shop if you are unsure of what type of soil a specific plant needs. For instance, succulents will do much better with a sandy soil, and planters for autumn showtime may do best with a time release fertilizer. If it is a very large urn, you can put an upside down empty plastic pot in first, then another pot inserted in that you plant into. Make sure the top insert holds enough soil to sustain your plants. The insert pots can be maintained elsewhere and then placed into the urns when you need them filled, for instance if there are urns at the wedding venue that you rented but you want them filled with flowers for your special day!
Choosing your Plants
- it is most important to know the conditions that the plants will be growing in, and displayed in. Sun, Part Sun, Shade, Wet, Dry, etc. Bedding plant greenhouses will help you decipher which plants will be best for these conditions. Be wary of raising a planter of shade plants in the shade but then putting them on display in the direct sun-- they may wilt! On the other hand, raising a sun loving planter in the sun and then displaying it in a shady place for your wedding is a stunning way to brighten up a dark place!!
- see the list below for great container plants and the season that they shine best
- there is a rule of thumb when choosing your plants for a mixed plant container arrangement: Thrillers, Spillers and Fillers. If you choose a trio of plants that each take on one of these roles, you are sure to have a great design. Fillers are especially important if you are sinking an insert (or mulitple inserts) into a large urn. They will cover up the insert pots and make it all look like it grew there together.
- plan on the tallest plant being 2 times the height of your container, but not more than that. Keep in mind the weight of your plants when choosing your container, so as not to pick a container that may topple when the sunflowers are blooming in it, or when the wind catches all of the ornamental grasses.
Maintaining the Plants
- plan on your plants filling out as they grow, so plant them with appropriate space. You can always plug in a plant at the last minute to fill in a random gap, whereas too many plants competing for root space will lead to lots of problems and compromise your containers outcome.
- fertilize your container every 3 weeks. There are many excellent Organic fertilizers available at most garden shops.
- trim, trim, trim. To keep your container looking full throughout the arrangement, trim back the young plants often to promote branching. Dead head spent blooms as needed.
Excellent container plants--
choose the plants listed for the season
that you want them looking at their BEST!
Spring (May, June)
* bulbs (keep these cool at first to promote root growth first, then they are less likely to topple over when they bloom; also choose a tall glass container to help them stay upright)
* cool temperature veggie crops (purple or green bokchoi, all varieties of lettuce are beautiful too)
* pansies (remove dead flowers to promote more blooms, time this so that there are plenty of full bloom
* talinum, jewels of opal
Summer (June, July, August)
* callibracoa (million bells)
* geraniums (including scented)
* ipomoea (sweet potato vine)
* lamb's ear
* licorice plant
* ornamental grasses
* petunias (wave type)
Autumn (September, October)
* callibracoa (million bells)
* ornamental cabbages and kales
* ornamental grasses
* sunflowers (dwarf & midheight varieties)
* Miniature conifers (tons of shapes and sizes, with a little extra ornamenting these creatures will steal the show!)
* Cacti, succulents and other dry environment slow growers (these would have to be kept indoors at all times.)
* Plug in stems of evergreens (freshly trimmed, but not planted in your container). If you are pushing stems into soil, remember to keep it in a place that will keep the soil thawed. It can freeze after you are done arranging for outdoor displays.
* wheatgrass containers are easy to grow and have that fresh green color that everyone loves especially in the wintertime. Fresh flowers in water picks can be pushed into the containers for an extra flourish.