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June 18, 2018  |  Login
Making Container Plants Part of Your Landscape
By Bill Marken & The National Gardening Association

Containers can provide a healthy, happy home for an array of indoor and outdoor greenery. Growing plants in pots, baskets, tubs, barrels, or other containers up to and including discarded footwear can be fun in a garden of any size and shape. Growing plants in pots is easy, but you can make it as challenging as you like. This chapter tells you everything you need to know to make container plants part of your landscape.

Taking The Container Plunge

Here are four good reasons why you may choose to grow plants in containers:

  • You can grow plants in impossible places. Container plants are portable; they can grow where you don’t have a conventional garden.
  • You can make plants look good. Highlighting a plant by growing it in a pot brings out qualities not noticeable in a garden bed or in a block of plants at the garden center.
  • You can grow plants that you think you can’t grow. Containers allow and encourage experimentation. You can give plants the exact conditions that they need, and you can grow plants with different soil and watering requirements side by side, which isn’t possible in a garden.
  • You can do stupid container tricks. Whatever the motivation, container gardeners can exercise spunk without polluting the atmosphere.

Before you take another step toward container gardening, make sure that you acknowledge and respect this concept: A container is not a natural place for a plant to grow. A container is confining, and without natural insulation, its contents dry out quickly. Nutrients wash out rapidly. The root system requires water and food in adequate doses. Roots run out of space and demand repotting. But think positively. With containers, you can provide exactly the right soil the plant needs, move the plant around when weather doesn’t suit it, and protect the plant from pests. Plus, you get to know individual plants better as they respond to your care.

Designing With Container Plants

Containers can do all the things that a whole garden can: announce the seasons, flash bright color, and create miniature slices of nature. Your designs really depend on maintenance considerations — plan placement of plants, whether in the same container or in several containers grouped together, according to their shared requirements for care.

Thinking About Style

Here are a few general-direction reminders to keep in mind when creating container plantings:

  • Use container plants to complement your home or existing garden.
  • Think about color. Using mostly green or white creates a cooling effect. Bright, hot colors (zinnias, for instance) heat things up.
  • Evaluate the plants you’re choosing and use their shapes to complement and contrast with each other.
  • Decide whether you want a formal or casual look.
  • Remember the value of repetition and scale. more


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