Greenhouse Canada

Ten tips for designing a perfect container garden

July 17, 2008  By The Associated Press

July 17, 2008 – Here's a look at 10 container gardening tips that you can pass on to your customers to help them design the perfect pot.

To create a beautiful container garden, landscape designer Jan Johnsen recommends using plants with contrasting leaf textures and varying growth habits.

She suggests three different kinds of plants to a pot, including a tall element in the middle like a tree and a trailing plant over the edge to droop over the sides. Or try the no-fail method of sticking to one kind of plant, like impatiens or straw flower.


Colour is also key: A pot can be filled with soft, romantic colours like pink and lavender, or bold hues like red and purple. Johnsen says an eye-catching combination is a pot of primary colours red, blue and yellow. Or a monochromatic look, such as all white flowers with lots of green foliage, will brighten up a shady corner.

Johnsen, nursery manager Michele Terlizzi and Ray Rogers, author of "Pots in the Garden," has these 10 tips for planting and caring for container gardens:

1. Decide where the pots are going. The choice of plantings depends on whether they're going in shady or sunny spots.

2. Choose pots that suit the style of your house and garden or a whim, and plantings to go in them. Plants can share a container if they have the same need for sunlight or shade.

3. While pots are generally low maintenance, they require more watering than an in-ground garden because the plants absorb water faster. If you are going on vacation, invest in a plant sitter to water once or twice a week.

4. Add a slow-release fertilizer to help plants continue blooming all summer.

5. Watch the weight: Once a pot is planted, it can get heavy and collapse a deck or be difficult to move.

6. Make sure the pot has a hole for drainage, which prevents root rot. Most, but not all, pots come with holes. A hole can be drilled into certain types of pots like plastic and wood.

7. Add pot feet to raise the pot to help with drainage.

8. Try different combinations in your pots. If you don't like it, you can easily change it.

9. Fear not: "Don't be afraid to make a mistake," says Rogers. "The thing I see so much is people come into a nursery and very timidly say, 'Does this look good together?' If you like it, by all means do it."

10. If you're working with a landscape designer or nursery to create your pots, ask for the rates and to see a sample of their work. Some nurseries don't charge to plant the pots if you buy the materials from them; others do.

The Associated Press

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