"Containing" Your Gardening Urges

A wonderful way to add splashes of color and shapes in any garden is to add container gardens. They offer unlimited flexibility and creativity with minimal effort. You can have an herb garden, a salad garden or colorful annual and perennial gardens, all in easy to create container gardens. Almost any container can be used to create a "potted" garden, so get creative! Planter boxes, lined baskets, even old teapots or old fashioned bicycle baskets can become a garden. Commercially available containers come in a wide variety of materials, including ceramic, plastic, wicker, wood, and metals. It is really all about preparing your container properly.  Here are a few tips:

  • Thoroughly clean the container
  • Line the container if necessary
  • For those stunning large pots, fill them part way with empty pop cans to keep the weight low (I even recently read a suggestion to use charcoal!)
  • Use a good soil mix meant for container gardens - they will generally include a slow release fertilizer and water saving material (or make your own!)
  • Be sure your container has drainage; if it doesn't have a hole or two in the bottom, go ahead and make some

Now, when designing the container and selecting plants , keep the following phrase in mind: Thriller, filler and spiller. Find that one really special plant for your "thriller", the centerpiece of the garden. Then select complimentary or contrasting mid-height plants to set the stage, your filler plants. Finally, be sure to add some movement to the garden with trailing or "spilling" plants. Plant your selections in your prepared container and water thoroughly.

Now that your garden is created and set in the perfect spot, the only thing it should need for the entire growing season will be pruning/dead heading and proper watering. And proper watering is key! Keep in mind where your container is located, the construction/material of the container and the types of plants are important factors. Some container gardens will need to be watered every day; others only once or twice a week. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Plastic or metal containers will retain water; porous materials like unfinished clay and wood will evaporate faster
  • If the container is in the sun it will heat up and dry out much quicker than if in a shady spot
  • Succulents need less water than a begonia

And remember, A Southern Gardener is here to offer information, consulting or even to design unique container gardens just for you!