Is your garden showing the effects of this summer’s weather extremes? One way to perk it up is with containers—by either refreshing existing containers or adding new ones. Containers can add a bit of color by the front door, decorate a deck or patio, or fill bare spots in a garden bed. Nurseries generally have a good supply of plants suitable for containers from early spring to late fall.
You can use a grouping of small pots or one large container holding several different kinds of plants. Large pots will dry out more slowly than small ones. Terra cotta pots will dry out faster than plastic or ceramic. Any container will need more water and more frequent fertilizing than plants in the ground. Drainage holes in the bottom are absolutely critical. Use a good commercial potting mix in your container instead of garden soil which can carry pathogens and insects as well as being too heavy.
Designing container gardens is simple if you remember this rule: “Include a thriller, filler, and spiller.” Start with something tall to catch the eye, then fill the pot with medium sized plants, and finally, add something that drapes over the side. Think about color and texture. Get ideas for your containers at nurseries where appropriate companion plants are often grouped together. You don’t have to use flowering plants. There are enough varieties of coleus alone to meet all the design criteria. And a pot of hardy herbs by the kitchen door can last through a mild winter.
Article written by Joyce Weinberg, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.