A container garden can look great – and they are easy as pie to create yourself. Container gardens with a wide range of beautiful pot plants can look stunning.
One fantastic positive of container gardening is that you can create a beautiful array of colours and aromas with very little garden space – so it is ideal for balconies, smaller gardens and even tiny yards. Herbs such as basil, thyme, mint, sage and parsley all make great pot plants as they require little care and generate edible food and lovely aromas. Herbs are also generally fairly easy to grow in pots, so if you’re new to gardening with pots then these are ideal to get you into the swing.
Don’t forget, it isn’t just the pot plants themselves that add colour and decoration to your outdoor space – the containers themselves also come in a wide range of colours and designs so you can instantly add a rainbow of colour to any small and dull space to give it a more appealing look. Although this is the case, of course it is also great to add colour with the plants and flowers that you pot up. It really depends what you want to attract, the colours you prefer and the style of plant that you like as to how you go about creating your own container garden.
If you are looking for a more leafy green effect, there are lots of bushy plants such as the bleeding heart or fuschia plant that give a big bushy leafy background with flashes of colour throughout. For more vibrant colours petunias and busy Lizzies are plants that love containers and come in a wide range of colours – these are very often used by professional gardeners are they are known to perform well in containers.
Something else to consider is whether your outdoor space is shady or sunny, as this will dictate what pot plants you should go for. You might be lucky and have a mixture of sunny and shady spots – but which pot plants should you choose for which areas?
Some of the best pot plants for shady areas include fuschia, coral bells, begonias, oxalis and trailing lobelia. All of these plants love a nice cool spot in the shade and will thrive in this environment. For sunny spots, the best sun-loving pot plants include verbena, million bells, browallia, cape daisies and petunias – these love to sit in direct sunlight making them perfect if you have full sun areas in your outdoor space.
Hanging baskets are also great for container gardening as they don’t utilise any floor or table space, so you can create a fountain of colour from higher places. Plants that drape downwards make perfect hanging basket plants, like trailing lobelia, fuschias, million bells and silver falls. All of these beautifully trail from the basket hanging down giving the effect of a waterfall of colour.
The most important factor for the success of your pot plants is effective drainage. In a garden planted in the ground, any excess water will drain down into the soil. In a container, this excess water is trapped, and it can rot and drown your plant’s roots.
When you are potting plants, make sure that the containers and pots have large enough holes in the base so that this excess water will drain away from the roots. You might think that the plant pots sold in stores and at garden centres will have sufficient drainage as a matter of course, but that isn’t always the case. If you want to be sure, add some more drainage holes yourself. Use a hammer or awl in a metal pot, or a drill with a masonry bit for ceramic pots.
At this point, you need to prevent your soil from escaping out of the drainage holes. Add screens made of coffee filters, sheets of newspaper, landscaping fabric, or window screening.Finally, pay attention to where you place your pot plants, as the water that drains away from your container garden can spill onto your patio. Keep your outdoor furniture away from the runnels of water, as nothing would be worse than ruining your outdoor teak dining set!
When you bring your plants home from the garden centre, it’s time to transplant them into your containers. If you mess up with this step, your pot plants will get off on the right foot.
Don’t tug your nursery seedlings out from their containers by pulling or tugging on their stems – this will weaken and kill the plant. To remove a plant from a nursery six pack or four pack, hold the plant close to the soil with your finger and thumb. Use the other hand to gently squeeze the plant out of the plastic pot.
If you plants come in a larger pot, turn it upside down and tap on the bottom of the pot. You should be able to loosen the ball root at this point, and then you can slide out the plant with your other hand. If the roots are dense and tight, consider chopping them up and tear them before planting. If you fail to do this, the roots will grow in a circular pattern that will strangle the plant.
Container gardens need to be watered regularly, and this frequent watering can cause important nutrients to drain out of the pot plant. When you are planting your pot plants, mix a slow-release fertilizer into your potting soil. This will give them the nutrients they need to thrive in the long run, and prevent a slow starvation.
When you are filling your pots with soil, make sure that you break up large clods of dirt and soil, as these can prevent the roots from growing naturally. This essentially makes the volume of viable soil even lower. You should also break up these clods with a trowel so that you can remove the possibility of air pockets. Air pockets are a container garden’s enemy, and will dry out and starve the plant.
By following these simple tips you can create a container garden that looks its best, brightens your space, and rewards you with abundant blooms. Happy planting!
Anna is the marketing and office manager for Garden Benches – a premium supplier of high-quality wooden benches and other outdoor furniture.