Container Gardening Part III: Plant Selection and Growing Tips

May 25, 2011

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  • If recycling old containers clean thoroughly with 1-part bleach to 3-parts water.
  • When reusing an oversized pot, place a thick layer of vermiculite, perlite, or Styrofoam at the bottom before filling with potting mix. This will reduce weight and improve drainage.
  • Know how much exposure the area receives and choose plants accordingly.
  • Not all perennials, fruit trees, and vegetables do well in containers. Read plant tags or ask for assistance.


  • When putting more than one variety per pot, select plants with the same sun and water requirements.
  • For a stately look, surround a single shrub or tall plant with colorful flowers.
  • Blooming vines create an impressive cascading display.
  • In shady areas use bright flowers, variegated leaves, and striking foliage and texture that will show off against a dark glazed ceramic pot.
  • A bowl of succulents requires little water and fertilizer, and adds smooth texture to sunny spots on tabletops. But most succulents need protection from winter weather.
  • Grow a salad container off the kitchen in a sunny place filled with sage, sweet marjoram, patio tomato, nasturtiums, Italian parsley, and basil.
  • Anchor a bench with LARGE, stately containers and colorful plants.
  • If you’re less inclined to water regularly, go with drought-tolerant plants, moisture control potting mix, a timer, and drip line.

Planting and Care:

  • A good potting mix is key to healthy, happy plants. Don’t go the cheap route when it comes to soil.
  • Leave two – three inches from the top of the pot to hold water. This will keep water from running off the soil before penetrating the roots.
  • After you’ve planted, sprinkle in a time-release fertilizer according to package instructions or feed every two – three weeks with a liquid or granular fertilizer. Always follow label instructions.
  • A soaker ring connected to a water line provides even, reliable watering. Check the emitters periodically for clogging.
  • Deadhead faded flowers for continuous performance.
  • Water according to the plants’ needs.

© Copyright Dianne Marie Andre


  1. Hi Dianne,
    I planted two trailing petunia plants in a recycled wooden hanger from years past yesterday. The ‘pretty thirsty looking plants’ seem to like their new abode! Thanks for the tips. bernadine


    • Ah, I love recycled planters. They add so much character and keep the past alive every time you look at its charm and renewed purpose.


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