Be bold with container gardening

Be bold with container gardening

You can have a beautiful garden whether you have a yard or not. Don’t let poor soil or lack of grand outdoor spaces stop you from planting beautiful flowers, herbs, evergreens or vegetables. Be bold in you choices of containers and what you put into them. It’s such a fun way to express yourself. Some simple tips will help you design the perfect outdoor container garden.

The first step is to decide if your container is going to be in shade, full sun, part sun, part shade or shade. That decision will guide which plants you can use in your containers. Containers can be placed on your patio or even out in your planting beds in the yard, if you have a yard. A sturdy pedestal makes a great place to put an outstanding container, too. Be sure that your container has good drainage so the roots of your new plants don’t drown.

Your container should be larger than you think you would need. Small trees and veggies like tomatoes love to be grown in a container if it is large enough. Especially small containers need to be watered several times a day during our hottest weeks, and that gets tiresome. The material that your container is made from makes a difference too. Clay or terra cotta pots are natural and beautiful but because of their porous nature, you will have to water a little more often. Ceramic, concrete or glazed pots are a good choice if they have drainage holes because they hold water a little while but do eventually drain well. Plastic containers from the nursery will grow weak and sometimes so hot that they can bake your plant. The “new” and improved thick plastic containers that look like concrete are a good option if you want to be able to move your plants occasionally.

The classic terminology for filling containers is “thrillers, fillers and spillers.” In general, put the taller plants in the center of the pot and smaller ones around the sides. Thrillers are the focal point and often the tallest plant. They are exciting, bold plants that catch your eye. Fillers are used around the base to add texture or color. Spillers are plants that flow over the edge of the pot and cascade down. A combination of these three types of plants is a great idea for your container garden.

Good soil is ultra important for containers because this becomes your plant’s “world.” Use potting soil and fertilize regularly with slow release granules or a very weak solution of fertilizer each time you water.

Just as important as soil is to choose plants that need the same things to grow well. In other words, don’t put a plant that needs shade and lots of water into the same container with a plant that needs sun and arid conditions. Texture counts as much as color. It’s OK to mix vegetables and herbs into the same container as flowers. It’s OK to use a Japanese maple in a large container surrounded by other shade loving plants. Be creative!


Joette Reger is an avid gardener and prides  herself on staying up-to-date on the latest gardening activities and tips. She can be reached by e-mail at joreger [at] msn [dot] com and on Facebook at “Gardengate with Joette Reger.”