Container gardening is popular for many reasons – it’s easy, you don’t need a yard, it creates a focal point, and you can grow a wide variety of plants in containers. There are just a few basic things to remember when planting a flower container.
Containers & Soil
When planting outdoor containers one of the most important factors to consider is drainage. If your pot doesn’t have good drainage holes you may need to drill holes in the bottom of the pot. Without good drainage, your plant’s roots can sit in water, and this can cause rot or disease.
Another factor that contributes to drainage is good quality potting soil. Potting soil should be lightweight and aerated, make sure you don’t use garden soil or topsoil in your containers that don’t provide enough drainage. Good quality potting soil also provides nutrients to your growing plants.
When you’re picking out plants for your containers, it’s important to choose plants with the same light and water requirements but other factors also contribute to a well-designed combination. Combine plants with different textures, colors, and sizes for an interesting look.
One of the common ways to design a flower container is to use the thriller, filler, and spiller method.
Thriller: Bold, upright plant. Used in the center or back of the pot.
Filler: Medium height plant. Placed between the thriller & spiller.
Spiller: Trailing plants. Drapes over the edge of the pot.
Feel free to be creative with your combinations, you may want to use multiple spillers in a tall pot or skip the thriller in a shorter pot.
Generally, a 10”-12” pot would need three to four plants and a 14”-16” pot would need four to six plants. This all depends on the full-grown size and vigor of the plants you chose.
The sky is the limit with color combinations. You can keep your container monochrome with all the same color flowers or chose bright contrasting colors. When you’re picking out flowers at the garden center, keep in mind the other colors that will be in the background of your design. This may be the color of your house, the color of your pot, or other plants in your landscape.
Keep your container looking great all summer with a few simple steps. Water your plants only when the top 1” or more of soil is dry. Water thoroughly until you see water draining out the bottom of the pot. Most of the flowering plants that we grow in containers require some extra fertilizer throughout the summer. You can add a slow-release fertilizer at the beginning of the season or occasionally add a water-soluble fertilizer throughout the growing season. Some flowering plants, like trailing petunias, will also benefit from being trimmed during the middle of the summer.
Flowers aren’t the only plants that we can grow in containers. Consider adding plants with colorful foliage as an accent to your flowers. You can also combine edible plants into your containers like herbs, leafy greens, and more.
For an impressive focal point, add a small tree or shrub to large containers and surround them with flowers. These plants won’t survive over the winter in containers, but they can be planted in-ground in the fall and moved back to the container in the spring.
Vegetable garden in containers is also becoming very popular, look for more information on this coming soon.