24 March 2010

Mixed Planters

We plant and grow many different mixed containers in our greenhouse. Many times I just create as I go, placing whatever suits my mood at the time. We sell a lot of ready-made containers, but we also have a lot of gardeners coming in to purchase plants for containers they wish to design themselves. I am asked all the time which plants work well together, how should the containers be planted or what do I think looks good together?


I want to start out by saying this is YOUR chance to be creative and get your juices flowing. I certainly don’t mind telling customers what I think looks good, but it’s their container garden and I want to know what they might like. It is easy to be overwhelmed when you visit your local garden center or greenhouse, so it helps to have some idea of what size planter you need, what colors you need and whether you are placing the container in a sunny location or shade. Take a look at your home or wherever you are placing your container gardens. In front of a larger home you can probably use a larger planter. Take note of where the sun is at different times.

I sometimes try to stick to a color scheme if I am doing containers for a particular holiday. For instance, on Independence Day I may try to stick to a red, white and blue theme. Sometimes I will plant variations of one color in a container garden, such as different shades of yellow or red. It is also fun to create containers with many different colors.

I generally will take a taller plant and use it as a focal point either at the back of the container or in the center. I will then take medium height plants, either flowering, foliage or a combination of the two, and plant them in front of or around the taller plant. Lastly, I will take “spiller” plants, (plants that trail or cascade) and plant them around the edges of the container.

Some tips:

Before planting, try different arrangements to see which looks best. That way, you don’t have to uproot the plants to move them around.

Don’t be afraid to mix annuals with perennials in the same planter. It will extend the life of your container garden.

By mixing in foliage plants, it will break things up a bit and keep the container garden looking fresh while the other plants are going in and out of flower.

Add some slow release fertilizer to your planting medium or use a liquid fertilizer when you water. Plants need to eat, just like people. We sell our own planting mix with nutrients already in it, but you should still add fertilizer on a regular basis to keep your plants lush and full.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and most importantly, have fun!

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