Ready to start your garden but you’re short on space? Maybe you live in an apartment or townhouse or space is limited in your yard. Or, you just want to add an extra pop of color on the patio or porch. No worries – container gardening can be an easy and quick fix. All you need is the container, soil, fertilizer and plants.
Here are the basic steps you need to take to get the container garden of your dreams:
Choosing Your Container
Choose plant pots and containers that add interest, color and texture to your balcony, patio or yard. Containers are mobile and can be moved as needed to provide optimal conditions for your plants or to show case color in a certain area.
It’s important to also get the right type of container for your plants. Clay pots and terra cotta pots will dry out quickly and require at least daily watering. Plastic, stone or metal pots need drainage holes in the bottom and can get too hot in the sun causing root damage. Hanging baskets will dry out very quickly and need regular watering and monitoring.
Pay attention to the size of your pot. You can easily move around smaller pots but larger ones will keep the soil moist for longer so bear that in mind.
Selecting Your Soil
All you need is potting soil. Read the labels to see what your plants need and adjust the potting soil accordingly.
Feeding Your Plants
Fertilizer is the only way your container plants will get the nutrients they need so this step is a crucial one. You can use either slow release fertilizer or weekly liquid fertilizing.
Mix slow release granules into the soil. It doesn’t hurt to add weekly liquid fertilizer from late July until the season is done. The plants will use up the nutrients, and regular watering will wash some of this fertilizer out the container’s drain holes.
Picking Your Plants
You’ve probably heard the terms “Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers”. In containers that have multiple plant varieties, adhering to this philosophy will create an eye-catching display when planted in groups of one, three, five or more.
Thrillers – these are your “look at me” plants – colorful plants with a unique shape. Add one or three of these to your container to add height and drama.
Fillers – these guys fill in the space and create a lush, filled container. Odd numbers of one or three plants works best, depending on the size of your pot. These plants are typically mounded or rounded.
Spillers – choose three or five plants that will trail down the side of the container, or ‘spill’, to complete your display. Place them close to the edge for maximum effect.
It’s important to remember to choose plants that all have the same needs when it comes to watering, fertilizing and sun or shade. In mid-summer, you can trim back the fillers and spillers if they start to look straggly.
Our Favorite Container Garden Plants
Fillers – Euphorbia, Calibrochoa, Petunias
Thrillers – Dwarf Papyrus, Penisetum ‘Fireworks’, Juncus ‘Blue Arrow’
Spillers – Wave Petunias, Creeping Jenny ‘Persian Chocolate’, Dichondria ‘Silver Falls’
You can get everything you need to start your container garden here at Patuxent Nursery. Not sure where to start, our staff will be happy to help you out!