Bring your garden to your patio, front walkway, deck or even balcony with colorful containers.
Hello Darlin’™ blueberry is a new low-chill blueberry from Southern Living Plant Collection that is great to grow in a pot. | Photo courtesy of Southern Living Plant Collection.
It may be May, but you still have time to grow a garden before summer heat sets in. Instead of planting an in-ground garden, why not nurture some colorful containers for your patio, front walkway, backyard deck or balcony? You can even grow edible plants in containers. Here’s how.
Use similar colors to connect your container garden with the landscape beyond. Don’t just think about plants either. Your pots can be focal points. I’ve collected cobalt blue, glazed pottery for years. Because glazed pottery is expensive, I buy only one or two pots per season. I now have about 20 blue pots on my deck. By choosing one color for my containers, I unified my entire garden. You could choose green to coordinate with your surroundings, or dark brown to “ground” the pots. Bright colors are fun too.
Employ larger containers so your creations don’t get lost in the landscape. Large containers are also easier to keep watered. It’s okay to have several sizes of containers, but group smaller containers together to make a bigger statement and integrate your look. Smart Pots, which are made in Oklahoma, now have new colorful containers. They are easy to fold up and put away after the season too.
Photos by Dee Nash
When planting your containers for hot weather, keep in mind the thriller, filler, spiller idea, originally defined by Steve Silk in Fine Gardening Magazine, for structure. In larger containers, you can use all three types of plants in one grouping. For smaller pots, group them together in the same fashion. Use a tall and dramatic plant like Tropicanna® cannas, purple fountain grass, a small rose bush, or ornamental banana trees, as your thriller. In shady spaces, try black elephant ears as your centerpiece. For fillers that surround the taller plant with foliage or flowers, try coleus—several varieties can now be grown in sun or shade—petunias, Diamond Frost® euphorbia—or one of the other varieties that resemble baby’s breath—as fillers. For plants that spill over the edge of the container, you have plenty of choices including Muehlenbeckia axillaris, creeping wire vine, Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’, Calibrachoa, also called million bells and Superbells®, Plectranthus coleoides ‘Variegata,’ variegated Swedish ivy, purple or white Scaevola aemula, fan flower, or Evolvulus hyb. Blue My Mind® blue daze.
You can also grow vegetables and fruit in containers. Intersperse your productive crops between colorful floral containers to attract pollinators and increase the beauty quotient. Blueberries are quite attractive and are easier to grow in containers than in-ground in Oklahoma. You can better control soil acidity with sulphur—which blueberries need. Several varieties like Hello Darlin’™ and I Declare™ from Southern Living Plants® can be your “thriller” centerpiece. Strawberries can be grown alone or as fillers in a mixed container. Buy dwarf fruit and vegetable varieties online and have them shipped directly to your door.
To grow your best containers, choose good quality potting soil and don’t let pots dry out. Water containers in spring at least once a day and in summer often twice a day, especially if they are growing in full sun. My favorite potting mixes are from Foxfarm. I like organic Lucky Frog®. If you want a coir mix instead of one made with peat moss, try Bush Doctor® Coco Loco®. Black Gold® organic and regular potting mixes are also great.
In spring, I use a handheld sprayer to water, but as the season heats up, I connect drip irrigation to a timer set for once a day. If I see that my containers are still too dry, I will give them an extra shot of water from my handheld sprayer.