It’s that time…get out there now and start your container gardens a’growin! From sunny vs. shady to thinking outside the container, check out these tips for creating gorgeous container gardens you’ll absolutely love all season long.
Location, location, location
It’s all about location! Where your container will go revels many things, such as your needed container size, whether you’ll want shady or sunny varieties, your color story and how many plants you should mix together.
If your container is going to be viewed up close, try mixing multiple varieties for extra interest. If viewed from afar, consider grouping multiple containers together with one plant variety in each, so the bold blooms will sure to grab attention.
Sunny vs. Shady
When it comes to choosing your plants, start with narrowing down your options based on whether they need sunny or shady varieties. Then work to choose plants that “get along” or have similar growth, water and light requirements, you’ll give each plant an equal chance to happily grow for a better overall container. Just check the plant labels!
Top Sunny Annuals for Containers: Geraniums, Petunias, Lantana and Calibrachoa are just some tried and true favorites.
Top Shady Annuals for containers: Coleus, Fuchsias, Torenia and Begonias will be sure to flourish in the shade.
Many times containers can have so many different blooms they all get lost in the mix. But there’s a solution for that! Accent plants, which are mainly foliage, will help break up all those blooms when mixed in, allowing them to really stand out.
Top accent annuals for containers: Licorice Plant, Asparagus Fern, Vinca Vine and Dracenas are wonderful accent plants that will allow your other blooms to shine!
Thrillers, Spillers & Fillers
Rule of (green) thumb when mixing and matching plants for a container is to choose 3 types of plants, each with one of 3 different growth habits: (1) a thriller – grows upwards, (2) a filler – grows out, bush-like and (3) a spiller – grows downwards, cascading.
Thinking Outside the Container
Mix it up! Containers never have to be typical. You can throw in unexpected varieties like these that no one will see coming:
Tropicals – Banana Plants, Hibiscus Bushes & trees all make great fillers
Herbs & Veggies – Eggplant will look beautiful and be practical, too!
Fall Favorites – mums, kale & cabbage are great accent plants.
Perennials & Shrubs – Grasses, hens and chicks, hydrangeas…you name it!
Planting and Care
Start now! Plant to make your containers to look full since our season is too short to wait weeks for your container to fill in.
Loosen those roots. When planting, make sure to loosen roots by lightly tearing them with your fingers.
Feed ‘em! Incorporate a slow-release fertilizer into your potting mix and fertilize with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer according to manufacturer Directions.
Water, Water. Adjust watering habits to the weather, not the calendar. Most plants prefer to be slightly dry between waterings and are best when kept moist not wet. Daily changes in temperature, wind and light levels will affect how often you’ll need water.
Author Bio: John Wisegarver
John is a Prairie Gardens Plant Expert. Every year, John helps design local containers and hanging baskets at Prairie Gardens. See some of his beautiful designs growing now in their greenhouses!