24 February 2013

Container Gardens for Indoor and Out

We have been covering recently about how to develop indoor gardens for your homes.  In the greenhouse for spring sales, we plant and grow many different mixed containers.   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? 
 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.  These tips can work for you indoors as well.  I mentioned in a recent article about placing groupings of plants together to provide a focal point in a room or to bring symmetry to a design or theme.  
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.  Spring will be here soon, but if you would like some spring flowers now, you could force some bulbs indoors, such as Paperwhites (narcissus), crocus and hyacinth. 
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.   It’s OK to mix the bulbs in with other types of plants so long as their moisture requirements are similar, just keep in mind that bulbs generally do not stay in flower for very long. 
Some tips: 
      Before planting, try different arrangements outside of the pot to see which looks best. 
      Outdoors, 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.   House plants may have different fertilizer
           requirements than annuals and perennials since they are indoors and it is “off” season.    
 Don’t be afraid to experiment and most importantly, have fun!


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