How do I love thee…?
Container gardening is righteously popular because it is adaptable to almost any size of space, microclimate, and plant material. I love using container gardens in my own yard because they’re so versatile. They are the one thing in my garden that I get to experiment with and change every year. I also love the pots themselves. The variety of colors, sizes, textures, and finishes are amazing and, I’ll admit, a bit addictive to collect.
Today I’d like to show you a few ideas how flower pots – containers made specifically for plants – can be put to work in your landscape for gardening and much more.
Let me count the ways…!
Pots as the focal point:
Pots set the color and style standard here:
A bold color statement echoed by silver plant foliage:
Even when empty, the positive/negative spaces and light/shadow effects created by pots can be intriguing:
Pots for security or traffic control:These large, heavy containers are a beautiful and welcoming entry garden to this commercial building. They also serve as bollards:
Notice how the color of the containers matches a color band on the building? The flowers and foliage follow the cool color theme with just a hint of yellow-green to jazz it up.
Pots that simulate a natural growing environment:Containers made of mock tufa are ideal for succulents and other rock garden plants. They mimic the natural stone (tufa) tubs and troughs that were had carved.
Denver Botanic Gardens
Pots as water features:As reflecting pools:
Pots as furniture:Top a container with a slab of stone and, voila!, the perfect garden end table (or stool, or table, or plinth, etc!)
Pots for storage:The drainage hole in the bottom of this container makes outdoor storage more practical.
Pots for vermiculture:Yep, three of these giant nursery pots are where my worms live. Worm castings are my "compost" of choice. Garden waste and kitchen scraps get rotated through the containers before being sieved and spread throughout the gardens. My worms survive year-round in these large pots (they get afternoon shade in the summer).
Tips for successful container gardens in our region:
1. Use large containers, at least 18” in diameter. Larger soil volumes mean more stable soil temperatures and moisture levels for happier root systems.
2. Use glazed or ceramic pots for improved moisture retention.
Echter's Garden Center, Arvada, CO
3. Go with a soil-less potting mix formulated specifically for outdoor containers. (Good drainage is critical.)
Plant choices can be overwhelming - but exciting!
Timberline Garden Center
4. For each pot, select plants that have the same cultural requirements and match them to the environment where the pot will be located.
5. Use this classic plant combo, it works!
One or two tall, showy plants (thrillers)
A few trailing plants (spillers)
A few mounding plants (fillers)
6. Choose plants with a color theme in mind and a variety of foliage types.
7. Ignore the spacing recommendations on the plant labels and set the root balls close together.
8. Use a slow release fertilizer or plan to fertilize your container gardens weekly.
9. Plan to water your pots daily, especially if they are in full sun, exposed to the wind, or hanging.
Have fun, and enjoy the creative opportunities that playing with containers and plants can offer!
Please join my fellow members of the Garden Designers Roundtable who are also writing on the topic of containers today: