Many people love the idea of gardening but maybe don’t love the work involved. Container gardening is an alternative to gardening which is low maintenance and rewarding. No breaking ground and tilling of soil required! It also doesn’t take much heavy lifting or tools.

Container plantings are a great way to enhance decks, patios, and other small spaces to add an ambiance of nature and pops of color to your landscape. Depending on your goals you can get year-round color by just replanting containers on a seasonal basis. Space is also critical for where you place your containers. Full or partial sun or shade will be the key to knowing what to plant.

Color

For a pop of color with vibrant foliage, choose plants with long-lasting blooms that flower all season and beyond. Pansies, snapdragons, and geraniums are a solid choice. For something unique, consider a “hot pick” such as the acid-yellow leaves of Corylopsis spicata ‘Golden Spring’, gold-leaf winter hazel. This plant has bright, pale-yellow dangling flowers in late winter, with stunning oval-shaped leaves that hold their color through the growing season. Other great long-blooming choices for pots are hardy fuchsias which are more upright than the typical tender fuchsias used in hanging baskets. Check out the compact cultivar Fuchsia ‘Dying Embers’ with its dark-red flowers blooming from midsummer through the end of October.

Style

For a stylish container garden, focus on plants that have an unusual shape such as dwarf conifers which are well suited for containers. Colocasias (Colocasia esculenta), also known as elephant ears or taro, are impressive plants because of their size. They are graceful, elegant, and often grow into huge foliage plants up to six feet in height! Kale and chard are usually thought of just for salads, but both will grow into beautiful displays if tended well. There are thousands of different fern species and some are appropriate for pots such as foxtail ferns and Japanese painted ferns which come in striking variegated silvery foliage as well as purples and oranges.

Texture

Planting with texture is a trend now. Bringing variance to your garden, it gives it depth, feeling, and focal points. For adding texture to containers some top picks include a few small trees that will thrive in a container and have a luxuriant feel such as the cut-leaf vine maple, Acer circinatum ‘Monroe.’ Its finely-divided foliage turns a clear primrose yellow in the autumn. Using plants of different sizes and shapes of flowers and foliage will create more contrast. In combinations with a greater range of texture, your eyes will be more likely to focus on each element of the combination as both an individual plant and as an arrangement together. Also, consider grasses to create texture. Their long, linear lines add an element you don’t get from many other plants because they contrast well against the more rounded shapes of other plants.

Quick tips

– Extra fertilizer: Slow-release plant food is the right choice for container plants. You only have to apply it once in the beginning of the season.

– Don’t overwater: Different plants have their own watering needs. The container material also makes a difference since plastic and foam pots retain moisture and clay pots dry out faster.

– Provide drainage: A lot of plants don’t like getting their feet wet. Ensure proper drainage with an elevated container to allow for airflow and drainage underneath. Garden centers have “pot feet” or you can make your own by arranging plastic bottle caps under the container.

 

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