1. Make A Plan!
Your container garden should be a reflection of your personality. Go to the internet for ideas and save your favorites in a folder. Searches using terms such as “annuals for shade” or “container combinations for sun” can lead you to some great ideas. Try a search on Pinterest. It is a goldmine for inspirations. Aim for something you can afford and don’t be stingy with your budget. Yes, there are many options for inexpensive container gardens, but cheap usually looks cheap.
2. Pick the right container
Think about the color of your house when choosing your container and pick a color that blends well or contrasts with your house color. Remember color echoes, so choose your color wisely. Good drainage is key to healthy plants. The number one cause of root rot is over watering. The number one cause of over watering is poor drainage. Finding a container with adequate drainage holes saves plants. It’s also a good idea to pick a container that moves around easily or place your pots on a stand with wheels. When hail is in the forecast, plants can be saved by moving it under an eave or when you’re taking a vacation in July, moving your containers into the shade can help them make it through your absence.
3. Use great soil
Nobody likes to spend money they don’t have to, but spending money on great soil will make a huge difference in the quality of container you grow. Include soil cost in your budget from the beginning. Potting soil works best for container gardens, however not all potting soils are equal. Plants need a well draining soil in a pot with adequate drainage. Keep it in mind when choosing your potting soil., the more perlite the better. If you buy a bag of potting soil without a good amount of perlite, it is beneficial to add a little extra perlite to the mix.
4. Select great plants
Plant seasonally to extend your containers usefulness. Hellebores during the winter, Pansies, Violas and Tulips during the spring. Grasses in the fall. Calibrachoa, Petunias, Bacopa and Ipomeas almost always make great pots. But, be careful about the habit of the plants your picking. Some Petunias grow in mounds and don’t trail, so pay more attention to the description on the tag than the picture. Mix plants that mound with plants that trail and plants the fill empty space. Finding something different can make your containers look more interesting. However, knowing what to expect from your plant choices saves a lot wasted effort.
Plants need nutrients to grow. Without fertilizer, your containers will be sparse and your plants will grow slowly. Speed things up and add a granular fertilizer to your pots as you plant them. Don’t be afraid of watering with a liquid feed as well. Your plants will thrive!
6. Monitor moisture closely
Letting your soil dry out is a good idea to avoid root rot, however it can be a fine line for some plants. If they go through a drought, damage can occur and sometimes even death. Be consistent with your watering. In the spring you may get away with watering your pots in and letting them go, but in the summer your plants may require daily watering just to survive. Water when the top 2-3″ of soil dries out or when one of your plants begins to wilt. The first plant to wilt is the indicator plant and lets you know when your plants are getting dry. Some containers may not need water when your indicator plants wilts. Check the soil. You may be able to skip a watering for that one.
7. Location, Location, Location
Just like when buying a house, location is one of the most important things to consider when planning a container garden. Sunny locations are required for the majority of annuals to grow well, however they will require more water from you. Shady locations can be fun to grow containers in. Focus more on texture and leaf color, than on flowers in a shady location, because plants that flower in the shade are limited.