Several years ago, a group of gardeners were touring my garden and having seen many potted plants, they asked how many pots I had. I knew that I had many but had not been asked that question before and so after the group left, I decided to count them. The final tally was 148.
It should not have been a surprise as buying a few pots for my garden is a traditional spring ritual. It is sort of like buying a plant, there is always room for one more! Containers for the garden come in all kind of shapes and sizes and, of course, there is a huge array of colors to chose from. Often an outstanding display can be made in a container with the foliage and flowers of plants that will provide a contrast to compliment the color of the pot.
Whenever I visit other gardens, which is often, I like to look at how they have used plants in containers. One of my favorites is Colocasia ‘Black Magic’ and chartreuse sweet potato vine. This is a very bold display and would not fit in every garden, but is an eye-catching combination. Another favorite is this large pot in a neighbors’ garden, that is used as the focal point in the center of a lawn. The center plant is Cotinus ‘Golden Spirit’, (a chartreuse foliage smoke tree), with sweet potato vine and Bacopa, (Sutera cordata), spilling over the sides. Not all containers need to be planted as sometimes a beautiful pot can stand alone as a piece of garden art.
Why containers in a garden? Most containers are somewhat mobile and can be moved around the garden depending on the time of year and what is blooming. For example, Hellebores are early bloomers and can provide some early color at an entryway or on a deck or patio. Then when the Hellebores have finished blooming, the pot can be moved and another container with plants providing summer color can be brought to replace it.
If your container is going to be outside all winter with soil in it, and if you are going to use a ceramic pot, be sure to select one that is ‘frost proof’. The actual designation may vary, but select a pot that will not crack with freezing winter temperatures. Generally, wooden planters including oak half wine barrels and plastic pots will not crack.
It is important to use a good all-purpose potting soil since the plant is going to be totally dependent on the soil and nutrients in which it is planted in. Wilco has several brands of potting soil to chose from, I like Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Mix. Before planting, I add fertilizer to the soil and mix it well. I use blood meal since it is an excellent source of nitrogen which is the nutrient most needed by plants. I also add a general type organic fertilizer such as cottonseed meal. For most container plantings, additional fertilization will be needed during the season.
Each spring, I like to try some new plants and combinations in my pots. When using different plants in one container, check the labels for their requirements as to sun/shade so they are compatible. Try something new this year and send some photos along the way.