How to Create a Container Garden

Step 1: Choose Your Container

Anything that is able to hold soil that has drainage holes can be used as a container. For superior plant growth, make sure the container has ample space for the roots to grow. Containers can be used to provide focal points, divide outdoor rooms, create privacy, hide unsightly views, accent the landscape, and grow edible herbs, fruits, and vegetables. The container you use will help set the mood of the design. 

Step 2: Choose Your Plants

Make sure to choose plants with similar light and water requirements. As a general guideline, combine tall plants (thrillers), round, mounding plants (fillers), and plants that hang over the side of the container (spillers). Contrasting size and texture will create visual interest. Using an odd number of plants usually works well; it creates a symmetrical balance.You can choose plants with colors that compliment the background where the container is going to be placed, your home decor, or your existing landscape.

Step 3: Fill Your Container with Soil

To prevent soil from falling out of the bottom of the pot, place a piece of landscape cloth over the hole. Next, add a thin layer of small rocks to help with drainage. Fill the pot most of the way with a loose potting soil, but be sure to leave ample room for the plants you’re going to add. A good potting soil usually contains little to no actual soil; it is composed of materials such as peat moss, vermiculite, bark, or coconut coir fiber. Succulents, herbs, and perennials tend to prefer a well-drained soil. Tropicals and foliage plants generally prefer a bit more moisture retention. 

Step 4: Mix in Soil Amendments & Fertilizer

If you want to keep your potted plants looking vibrant, it is wise to add a few amendments to your soil. You might add Soil Moist to help regulate moisture and prevent your plants from drying out in the Summer heat, or BioTone Starter Plus, a mycorrhizal starter fertilizer, to help establish healthy roots. A slow-release fertilizer such as Osmocote will feed your potted plants for up to 6 months. To boost the production of blooms, try Espoma Flower Tone, an organic granular fertilizer that must be applied every 14 days. Before adding any plants, mix in some moisture control pellets and a starter or time-release fertilizer for best results. 

Step 4: Decide on a Configuration

This is the time to play around with spacing, color, and texture. Arrange your flowers in a way that compliments the location of the container. For example, a container between two chairs might be symmetrical, with a thriller in the middle, fillers on either side, and spillers flowing over the edge. If you’re working with a pot that is against a wall, it is best to place the tallest plants in the back, and the shortest plants in the front, so that everything is visible. If you are designing a pot that will be visible from all sides, you may want to place the tallest plants in the middle surrounded by fillers and spillers. Utilizing contrasting colors will help each individual plant pop. A variety of texture can have a similar effect. For example, placing a spiky grass in the middle of an urn and surrounding it with delicate, soft foliage and cascading flowers will create visual interest by using contrasting textures and coordinating colors. 

Step 5: Plant your Container 

Once you’ve decided on a configuration, it’s time to place your plants in the container. First, loosen the plant from its pot by lightly squeezing the sides of the container; the plant should come out relatively easily at this point. Gently loosen the roots at the base of the root mass with your fingers. Dig each hole so that the root mass will fit in the hole, with the top of the existing soil even with the top of the soil in the container. Once the plant is in place, gently pat the soil into place around its roots. After all of your plants are in place, and the soil has been lightly packed evenly around the base of each plant, water thoroughly. 

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