Enjoy Summer's Colorful Perennials and Annuals by Creating a Containter Garden

Decorative Containers offer interesting ways to grow a wide variety of plants. Summer Containers, spilling over with vibrant plants can offer a low maintenance and beautiful splash of color to any outdoor room!

Let's examine the basics of creating a summer container garden:

  1. First, choose your container: Containers come in all shapes and sizes; some conventional, some not. A large tin tub can make a fine container. So can a variety of ceramic ones. Even a wooden whiskey barrel can become an attractive venue for showcasing landscape plants. Always make sure it is pierced on the bottom for adequate drainage. Adding stone, gravel or even broken ceramic at the bottom of the pot, before adding the soil, will aid in proper drainage. Also make sure you use a high quality potting soil.
  2. Next, choose the site for your container: Examine the site your container will inhabit: Sunny? For how many hours? Shady? You will need to choose plant materials that thrive in these conditions to ensure the health, vitality and beauty of your container garden. Observe the area you want your container in for a few days, track the conditions and then go and purchase plant materials that enjoy those particular sun/shade conditions. Also you will need to make sure that your container gets adequate water. In the heat of summer, you may need to water twice a day when the container is dry.
  3. Then, Choose your design: This is where you can be really creative. I usually use the design premise " Thrillers, Spillers and Fillers" when contemplating which plant materials to use for a container garden. "Thrillers" are larger plant materials that are intended to make a statement. For sunny locations, choose Canna, Coleus, Hibiscus, grasses or even a vine like Clematis, on a trellis inserted in the container. You could even create a small vegetable garden in a container! For shade: Choose Elephant Ear, large Hosta, Ferns or even a Black Dragon Cryptomeria (evergreen.) "Spillers" are those that tumble over and out of the containers to add interest. For sun try Wave Petunias, Sweet Potato Vine, Sweet Alyssum, Million Bells or Creeping Sedums. For shade try Creeping Jenny, Verbena or Ivy. "Fillers' are usually medium in height and are to add the structure of the container. For sun try Begonias, Sedum or even some herbs. Ornamental Cabbages and Kales added in the fall add interest even into the winter. For shade try Heuchera, Impatiens, Hosta or Ferns.
  4. Once your container is situated and planted, you must never neglect them. You must provide them with the food, nutrients and water needed throughout their life in the container. Water when the soil is dry, use a fertilizer once every few weeks to encourage profuse flowers and foliage.

The beauty of containers is that they can be ever-changing: If something doesn't work, you can try another. Experiment and have fun- the sky is the limit!

About the Author:

Lori Hawkins, RLA, ASLA has been a registered landscape architect and active in the landscape design/build industry for over 25 years. For additional inspiring project pictures, design ideas, or great garden gifts, take a look at these websites:

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