Archive for May 23rd, 2011

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Container Gardening Part II: Shopping Guidelines

May 23, 2011

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In Container Gardening Part I: Available Choices, I shared the types of pots offered. Here are some helpful tips to consider before you go shopping:

Size:  Roots need air circulation and plenty of soil for adequate root growth. Annuals don’t need as much soil as perennials but all plants need plenty of oxygen. Vigorous growers require repotting more often but don’t overwhelm plants in a huge pot. It will look unbalanced. A reputable nursery person can help you pick the right size for your plants.

Drainage:  All planters must have drainage holes. Even if you are putting a potted plant with holes inside a decorative planter don’t let it sit in the accumulated water at the bottom. Place an inch of gravel at the bottom of the decorative planter so the inserted pot sits above the water. Empty the water as needed.

Weight:  Consider the heaviness. Do you want it to be mobile? Will you be able to move it? Is there enough surface support for a single pot or companion pots if grouping several together?

Oxygen:  All containers should sit off the ground for airflow. Most nurseries sale pot feet or you can use brick or cut a couple of lengths out of scrape wood.

Durability:  If you’re buying large planters that are too heavy to move during the cold season, choose winter-proof pots such as wood, metal, or concrete. For regions with extreme heat, don’t use material that absorbs heat (dark metal and terra cotta) as it can burn the roots. Some glazed ceramic pots won’t hold up in regions where climates fluctuate from extreme high to low temperatures.

Color and Style:  Part of the fun of container gardening is choosing pottery. If you’re new to container gardening and unsure where to begin, here’s a list of questions to help you make the right choices.

  • Match pots to the style of your home. Is it ranch, Victorian, contemporary, bungalow, traditional, cottage, Spanish?
  • Are the exterior walls bright or drab, in need of color? If the walls are dark, a light color container will pop and vise versa.
  • Do you want to see your container garden from inside the house? If so, are the plants tall enough? Do you need hanging planters, window boxes, or potted vines with a trellis?
  • Is there a nearby faucet and hose for easy watering or installing a drip line and timer?
  • Do you want to show off the pot, your green thumb, or both?
  • Do you want to create a bold statement, repeat a focal point throughout the garden or yard, or a warm welcome statement?
  • Do you want a succession of matching planters along a path?
  • When doing a grouping, do you prefer identical material or an eclectic flair?

Helpful Tips:

  • When considering color, remember that dark-colored pots will fade; some pots fade during the first season while others may last longer.
  • For container groupings use different heights and sizes of both planters and plants.
  • Water coming from the drainage holes can leave rust or water stains on concrete or wood surfaces. Put a tray under your elevated pot. Line window boxes with a good drip pan so water won’t run down the side of your walls and cause stains. Mount box so there’s a good gap for air circulation otherwise moisture will get trapped and cause rotting to windowsill or siding. © Copyright Dianne Marie Andre
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