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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Container Planting Ideas

There is just something about wandering around a nursery this time of year when it is finally safe to plant shop till you drop!

Resist the temptation to just grab whatever catches your fancy. Have in mind what you want or make a list before you make the trip. Have an idea where you'll be putting these plants. Will they be in full sun or partial shade? Will they be in containers, bedding plants, window boxes?

Pictured here are ideas for container plantings. When you plan container or window box plantings, keep in mind three things: thrillers, fillers, and spillers.

This galvanized old pot contains four types of heat tolerant annuals requiring full sun. I used one spike and two each of the other three types.

In the center is the accent plant, Dracaena spike, a tall, upright growing, grassy annual.

Around them are Calibrachea, trailing 1 inch petunias that bloom profusely until they slowly peter out by late summer. They come in a choice of colors ranging from yellow, peach, pink and purple.

Trailing Verbena
A trailing perennial often planted as an annual growing to 12 inches tall and 2 feet wide. The leaves are medium to dark green, ovate in shape with coarse toothed margins and grow to one inch long and half as wide. Beautiful plant as it spills over the edges of its pot, basket or over rocks. Colors options are in the red, pink and purple range.

Diamond Frost Euphorbia is a light airy plant with little white flowers great to use to fill in the gaps. Tiny, delicate leaves and flowers adorn this 12 to 18 in. plant which looks a bit like Baby's Breath.

This assortment consists of aromatic cooking herbs. Great combination to have near the kitchen door. Herbs are heat and drought tolerant, requiring sun and well drained soil.

Garden oregano does best in the ground due to its size so for this arrangement I used Greek Oregano. A much smaller plant, this oregano smells as you'd expect and is perfect for snipping as needed.

There are several choices of basil. Typical Garden Basil also does best in the ground. Here we have Thai Basil which has smaller leaves, with purple stems and flowers.

Purple Sage looks great with the Thai Basil as it has a purple tinge to the leaves.

There is a difference between Marjoram and Oregano. Though similar, marjoram is actually a member of the mint family. It is considered a meat herb, complimenting many types of dishes. Marjoram is a bit sweeter than oregano.

Lemon Thyme is a favorite for those who love to add these sprigs to fish or just enjoy the citrus aroma of the leaves. There a many types of Thymes in which to choose.

Potted herbs need to be trimmed regularily or the plants get leggy and woody. Trimming helps them get bushier which is more attractive as a grouping.

For shady spots needing a splash of color, think Colelus. These attractive plants are grown for their beautiful foliage. Coleus will survive in the sun but the color of the leaves is most enhanced in the shade. Small flower spikes appear in late summer. Pinch off these blooms and growing shoots of young plants to encourage bushier plants.

The center spike plant is called Cordyline Australis. Magenta in color it blends very well with the other plants.

The trailer for this pot is known as Ipomoea or Sweet Potato Vine. Deeply veined dark magenta leaves drape over the edge.

This assortment looks skimpy now but it will quickly fill the gaps.
The Cigar or Firecracker plant is a shrubby type that does well in a pot if large enough. These red tubular flowers are great for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds.

Fuschia plants are so pretty. Delicate blooms hang like jewels on a necklace. Just be sure to give this one plenty of water, especially if in a pot that dries out quickly. Pinch them to discourage legginess.

Surrounding these two center plants is the old standby for easy color, Impatiens. These plants will let you know when they need water. But quickly bounce right back. Impatiens bloom the entire season right up to frost, which turns them to mush, requiring little effort in fall clean-up.

Check flea markets and auctions for finding various unique containers for your plantings. Farm auctions often have old cast iron cooking pots and galvanized pots, tubs and buckets. If the tubs or buckets don't already have rusted out spots on the bottoms, you'll either have to drill a few drainage holes or else periodically take out the flower pots so that you can tilt the tubs and dump out the accumulated water.