This is the time of year that gardeners focus on getting their containers planted. Here are a few tips for success.
Start by choosing the right container for your location and decor. I live at the beach. My front is sunny and hot. Since we enjoy a very laid back, relaxed lifestyle, I chose large containers so that they have a big soil mass to hold moisture throughout the day. They are also heavy enough not to blow over in the wind and sturdy enough to stay outdoors over the winter.
My back yard is very woodsy. I chose some large containers for feature pots plus quite a few smaller ones tucked here and there in the open spaces in my garden. Many are inexpensive black plastic pots that aren’t showy at all. The plants become the feature rather than the pots.
Clay pots are very natural looking but dry out quickly in hot areas. Plastic or resin pots hold moisture better in full sun plus come in all shapes, styles and colours. You can easily find something to fit your needs.
Wood containers are very natural looking and can be stained whatever colour you need.
Metal containers are best used out of direct afternoon sun,. They heat up quickly. As an alternative, you can plant drought tolerant succulents and annuals in metal or clay pots positioned in the sun.
Wire pots with moss or coco liners will dry out faster than a solid-walled containers. In hot spots, line the inside with plastic before adding soil. Poke a few holes in the plastic an inch or two up from the bottom. This will create a water reservoir but still allow the container to drain.
All containers that sit out where rain will hit them MUST have drainage holes. Roots will rot if they sit water logged!
Remember that not all your containers have to match exactly. Just be sure that they all look good together and have some size and style variation to add some interest.
Choose a good quality potting soil as the starting point for planting. Container mix with coir fibre helps hold moisture in hot areas. I find straight potting soil a little light, so I mix 1/3 compost with the potting soil. Don’t use garden soil in your containers. It is too heavy and could introduce pests and disease into your pots.
Next choose plants for your containers based on light requirements. Most plant tags give info about full sun, part shade or full shade. Next look for a variety of size, colour and texture in the plants you choose. You want thrillers, filler and spillers! Thrillers add drama and height to a container. Spillers fall over the edge, trail down and soften pot edges. Fillers bridge the gap between the two.
Choose colour combinations that appeal to you, co-ordinate with your outdoor decor and suit the mood of the area. Bright vibrant colours add energy and can be seen well from a distance. Soft or cool colours have a calming effect and can recede into the background. Neutrals such as white, silver and green can help blend colours that might otherwise clash.
You may decide to create a containers using flowers all the same colour. (All white combos are very popular right now.) Be sure to pick a variety of flower sizes and leaf textures to add some interest. You can also plant a pot with a mass of just one flower. It will make a bold impact.
Don’t be afraid to mix perennials or shrubs with flowers in pots. Just be sure that they are planting into the ground by mid fall. Not all will survive the winter in pots.
There are so many new and interesting plants at the garden centre to choose from. It can often be overwhelming. Just take your time and make a few notes as you go down the aisles. You can also get inspiration from pre-planted containers that are on display!