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Itching to get your hands dirty? Try Container Gardening

Tired of washing, washing, washing your hands? It’s time to go play in some dirt.

How about a container garden?  A little color and greens will lift your spirits now and provide a beautiful start to your garden later. Container gardens are versatile:  They are great for small spaces, particularly for apartments or condo balconies.  They also provide a focal point and drama to a larger yard or garden.

Remember: You can’t put your container garden outdoors now, but once the weather gets a wee bit warmer; you can scoot it outside for instant color

First, you need to find a suitable container: wood, metal, ceramic, or plastic. Window boxes are also nice. Whatever container you use, it should have holes in the bottom for drainage.   If there aren’t holes, use a hammer and nail or a drill to make your own.  That way, you can be creative and use something unusual, such as an old wheelbarrow, watering can, chair, etc.

Put a few rocks in the bottom of your pot to keep the soil in and let the water out.

Taller containers are popular now, but they can become very heavy.  Instead of using all potting soil, you can fill the bottom with clay pots to about 1 foot from the top of your tall container. Then you can place your soil.  (I’ve had good luck by filling the tall containers with those dreaded Styrofoam peanuts and then your soil.  The peanuts add good drainage, considerably lessen the weight of your container, and get rid of those dratted peanuts.

Fill your container only 2/3rds full of a good potting soil designed for containers, such as Mahoney’s Compost Planting Mix, Miracle Gro Potting Soil, or any other quality product. 

Shopping at Garden Stores during COVID-19. Many nurseries and garden centers, such as Mahoney’s are taking orders by phone or online. You can drive up curbside to get your order; Some Garden stores have plans in place to let you safely pick out your own flowers. For example, Mahoney’s has their plants lined up by a fence and you can tell the sales assistant which plant(s) you prefer.

Okay. Now we get to the fun part, choosing your plants and putting them into the containers.

Decide where the container will “live,” which determines what kind of plants you can choose–Either sun or shade plants.  NEVER mix sun and shade plants in the same container.

Old standard flowers for containers and window boxes were geraniums and petunias. Now we have so many more choices. Select warm colors, cool colors (often more interesting foliage), all white, all primary colors, red/white/blue, dark and dramatic plants. Even mix herbs or veggies in with flowers.

The plants we choose for our containers usually fall into 3 categories:

  • Thrillers are tall and eye-catching: cannas, shorter landscaping grasses, even a small tree but something to add height to your arrangement.
  • Fillers can be any of the lovely annuals you find at the local nursery or even supermarket: petunias, million bells, marigolds, smaller dahlias, daisies, begonias, impatience, celosia, gazania, ageratum, coleus, even hosta leaves create interest. 
  • Spillers usually “spill down” the sides of the container, such as vinca, licorice plants, sweet potato vines, verbena, English ivy, lobelia, dichondra, bicopia.

Nothing is off the table if it fits in the container.

Container gardening is a lot like how we make our Power of Flowers Signature Bouquets: you want a line flower (thrillers), focal flowers (fillers) and some trailing plants (spillers).

You want to vary the colors (even when they’re within the same color family i.e., pink, light pink, magenta). Also vary the heights and the textures of your plants. Just like our PoFP bouquets!

Don’t overfill the container. A 12″ pot holds only 4 plants, a 16″ pot holds 6-8 and a 20″ pot holds 8-10. Put a few rocks in the bottom of the pot to keep soil in and let water out. 

Arrange your plants in the container. When you’re satisfied with location of each plant, press down around the plants so they are snugly seated in soil.

Make sure you water your newly planted garden. When the water has been absorbed, add more soil as needed; but don’t fill beyond 2 inches from top of container.

Check for the pot for moisture every couple of days. The smaller the pot, more often it needs watering.

You will know it has enough water when water comes through drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.

And there you go—a pretty, little garden that you can put outside in just a few weeks.

Now, go wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap AGAIN and enjoy your new garden.

Stay Tuned. Next time we’ll talk about annuals and perennials and how to care for them.