Enemy #1-Wet Feet
When it comes to selecting a planter, container or pot, you can basically use almost anything as long as it has the proper drainage. A container plant’s number one enemy is “wet feet” and wet soil at the bottom of the pot usually leads to yellowing leaves or rotting roots, the beginning of a plant’s demise. No matter how pretty the pot is, it needs to let the water out.
1/2 price sale at the garden center - YAY!!
Terra-cotta or clay pots work well but water does seep through and evaporates quicker, and dark colored containers soak up more heat and sunlight. Both these types of pots require a more frequent watering schedule. Coconut Fiber hanging baskets are very pretty but also do not retain water very well – line the pot with a disposable diaper, plastic side out with a few holes and it will really help retain moisture. Plastic pots are fine, however I find that the cheaper ones really don't last too long and split and crack after the first season of use.
Containers can also play a functional role for planting vines in areas lacking soil beds. If you are trying to grow vines to cover a post for instance and the post is imbedded in concrete or surrounded by pavers, a large container is definitely the answer. Containers of vines placed in front of trellises work well also, especially for invasive vines that can take over a garden if planted directly into the ground.
No matter what you ultimately decide to use for a container though, for a good balanced planting make sure what is in the pot – compliments the pot itself. There's no rule of thumb here but tall plants look good in tall pots, short plants look good in smaller pots. Sometimes, if I have a colorful pot, I'll plant flowers or foliage that mimic's the pot itself.
However, as you can see this theory doesn't always work and is totally "blown out of the water" when you plant and can no longer see the pot when using trailing or bushy plants.
Add a little Whimsy
Of all the containers I've planted over the years, I think my favorite ones are of the whimsical nature. They are the most fun and strategically placed amongst the “serious containers” they really do add so much personality to the garden.
A Few other Tips and Considerations
For very large pots – Take the time to place the pot in the location you think it’s going to be staying. It’s not always easy to predict how it’s going to look but it’s much easier if you can build and plant large pots in their permanent location. I have made the mistake too many times and sometimes it’s not easy moving them. It doesn’t make for a happy relationship at times if your significant other is the mover! See what I mean?...
Place large pots on small platforms with wheels. This is really a good idea if you bring your pots in for the winter.
Hanging plants can be installed on decorative pulleys for easy watering.
Choose a site where watering is accessible and easy.
Don’t water after planting until you move them to their permanent location. (I always forget this one!)
For some strange reason, when putting pots together as a group they go better in odd numbers - Arrange pots in numbers of one, three, five, etc for best effect.
Fill bottoms of tall pots about 1/3rd with recyclables (plastic bottles, plant containers etc) and use inexpensive top soil on the bottom
In the next article we we'll talk about putting it all together - Color, balance and style.
In the meantime...Happy Planting!