Creating Unique Decorative Containers (Part1) - Selecting Plants

By Kathleen Guagliano (Katg) on May 19, 2010

It's Container Planting time and whether you’re selecting plants for a splash of color in a shady corner or for an entire garden of mixed containers, here's just a few ideas to help you with your selections.

There are so many things we could get into here when it comes to selecting plants for Containers, but let’s just start with the basics…

When you start out thinking about planting a decorative container, one of the most important things to determine is the location of where it's going to be once it's planted. What type of sun exposure does the area receive on an average day? Is it a sunny patio or a side shade garden? This of course is going to be a primary factor when determining what kind of plants you’re going to select. Of course, the great thing about Container gardening is...if you mess up, you can always move it!



Think about how much time you have to devote to your Container(s)? If you don’t have a lot of time but would still like to enjoy some beautiful planters, then low-maintenance plants such as cacti and succulents would be a good choice. Most Container gardens need more water than a regular garden. A general theory is that thinner leaved plants need more water and thicker leaved plants will need less. Mulching also prevents water loss.

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Don’t be Shy in the Garden Center

When you go to the nursery or garden center to select your plants, do some arranging. There is nothing wrong with physically touching, mixing and matching plants that you might think will go together. Don’t be shy about moving their stock around and trying to configure it into your envisioned container. Carry your favorite plant around and hold it up against what you might consider worthy partners in the container. Of course, everything should be healthy looking and big isn’t always the best. Also, consider dwarf varieties, as they love being containerized!

The plants you select should be proportionate to the container, and the container itself should be proportionate to the area. A 5ft  planted u rn would look  a little out of place on a small patio balcony, whereas a single gallon pot would get lost in a large area.

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What is the first plant that catches your eye? In most cases, this really should be the focus of your container. The rest should be complimentary but texture and shape can also bring a lot of interest to your containers. Contrasting features of fuzzy, shiny, smooth, glossy, fine, broad, rounded, etc., all just add an interesting feature to a container,

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When mixing plants be aware of how everybody is going to get along. You need to have good neighbors in a pot! Plant “like with like”.  Same sun, water and space requirements. You don’t mix a Cactus with an Elephant Ear! (Although I hate to admit it but I actually know this from experience!) Everybody in these pots like each other!

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Color is such a personal choice, but the colors you select produce such different effects. Blues and Purples recede and come across as reserved. Reds and bright yellows come forward and present a much more intense and assertive look. Mixing these colors can really tone down the entire look of the container. Moving hot reds toward their opposites, cools everything down and a nice balance can be achieved.

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Personally I love foliage containers. They may start out with a flowering variety but as we all know, blooms come and go. I plant with long term in mind and try to envision a container when the blooms are gone. There are so many beautiful foliage plants and the texture, color and structure of beautiful foliage makes these containers stand alone.

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This is only one article and I've only just scratched the surface when it comes to plant selection. There are so many resources on the internet for the type of plants that will thrive in your area. If you're into container gardening, I sincerely hope you get some inspiration from these plantings...I'm just so excited to share them with you!


Happy Planting!

Related articles:
Container Gardening, Containers

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Oh yeah..... Sharon Jun 1, 2010 10:50 PM 7
Georgeous ! Zanymuse May 23, 2010 12:22 AM 4
Creative juices valleylynn May 23, 2010 12:20 AM 1
Beautiful! Patti1957 May 23, 2010 12:19 AM 1
Very Informative Article nap May 20, 2010 5:55 AM 5

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