Container Gardening Perfect for Beginners

A pot full of colorful flowers set next to the front door has a way of saying welcome and is easy to create! First, you will need a container and good potting soil that drains well. The soil can be used repeatedly, so be sure to invest in a good soil mix. The size of the container should be considered carefully depending on the number and eventual sizes of the plants that you intend to plant. Also, be sure the container has drainage holes.

According to Audrey Alessi, a horticulturist, for some tips on creating an interesting combination pot. One of her jobs is to plant mixed container gardens at the nursery. She recommends starting by choosing a taller, upright plant for the back or center of the container. This could be a sweet basil if you want something edible or a sun coleus for bold tropical colors. Next, add flowers that are shorter and that provide contrasting or complementary colors. These do not always have to be flowers. It could be something like Aztec Grass, a green and white variegated liriope. This year we have been using a good deal of Fiber Optic Grass, which provides interesting texture and a name that will stimulate conversation! Finally, choose one or more plants that will cascade over the edges of the container such as Million Bells, Wave Petunia or Scuttelaria, a favorite of hummingbirds.

For a shade-loving container, you might choose cast iron plant for your tall plant with maidenhair fern, and an angelwing begonia or impatiens mixed in for color. You might add a few caladium bulbs for additional color.
Alessi also enjoys creating theme gardens. A butterfly container garden could include red pentas, purple ‘Homestead’ verbena cascading over the edges, milkweed for monarchs, bronze fennel for swallowtails and a rambling vine of passionflower for Gulf fritillary butterflies. For a very edible garden, center rosemary surrounded by Greek oregano, garlic chives and creeping thyme.

There is nothing wrong with simplicity. I have a Mexican style container that looks great with just one spicy globe basil in it. The bright green dainty leaves on this compact plant show off the container nicely. I keep it just outside the front door so I can easily clip its leaves for a dinner salad. Regular watering is important. Feel the soil to make sure that it is somewhat dry before watering. This will keep you from over-watering. However, you do need to visit your plants regularly to see if they need water. They will also need to be fertilized. I tend to use organic fertilizers like fish emulsion mixed with Maxicrop, a seaweed derivative. A slow release fertilizer like Osmocote is also good.

Container gardening is fun! Once you have the containers and soil, you can experiment with a variety of plants and change them seasonally. If you don’t like the way it turns out, you can always transplant a plant in the ground and start fresh. Let your imagination fly and design your own container garden today.

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