DIY Container Garden Tips
Do you see those gorgeous potted plants and container gardens at the store and begin to drool until you see the price tag?? Why not create your own beautiful container gardens and potted plants at half the cost! So how do you get started and what are the best plants to grow in containers? I say any plants! I love mixing flowering plants with herbs, vegetables, and even ground covers. Whether you are using container gardens to make up for a lack of garden space or using container gardens to accent small or awkward spots on your deck or patio, Following just a few tips, you can have beautiful container gardens that produce all season long!
1. Don’t be afraid and have fun with it! Learn the following few tips and get started creating your own beautiful container gardens! If you pay attention to these tips, your outdoor plants will thrive. With just a little planning and proper care, outdoor plants are really easy to take care of. Some outdoor plants require very little care all summer long!
2. Drainage! Make sure your containers have appropriate drainage. If your pot doesn’t allow enough water to drain, the soil will become soaked causing the roots to rot. Most pots come with holes in the bottom or spots that need to be punched out. Simply use an All or screwdriver to do sol. If the pot does not have holes or spots to punch, you can always drill holes into the bottom. I do not recommend ceramic pots without drainage holes for outdoor use unless you are using them in a completely covered area such as a porch or covered patio. Extra large/long containers will need more drainage holes.
3. Read the tags that come with your plants to learn the proper sun and size requirements for the plant so you are using the correct size pot and combining plants that will accentuate one another rather than strangle the other plants. This should probably even be number 1 because if you pay attention to the care instructions you will rarely go wrong. You also do not want shade plants mixed with plants that require a great deal of sun for example . If you pay attention to the care instructions, your pots should fare quite well. When choosing plants that will accentuate each other, I generally like 1 plant with height, another with fullness and a third that will hang down. Play with color and texture as well to create added visual interest. If you are planting edibles, be mindful of any plants that could poison or contaminate the soil or plant. I generally like to place edibles together for example a trailing herb looks great with a tall tomato plant (basil will actually help tomato plants yield more fruit.) I also think trailing plant like cucumbers and squash look beautiful with companion plant edible nasturtium flowers. When working with fruits and vegetables, it’s best to refer to a companion planting chart as some plants do not work well together. Tomatoes and cucumbers for example are antagonists.
4. Lighting! This is hugely important when planning any type of garden! The beauty of container gardens is that they are portable so they can be moved to accommodate the plants’ sun needs. Be mindful of this when selecting comingling plants and choosing the pots placement.
Inspect your outdoor areas for cues: patios that are damp and moss covered probably don’t get much light and decks out in full sun will require plants that can take the heat. Most fruits and vegetables will need a lot of sun so surely be mindful of this when combining them with herbs or other plants.
5. Soil! Make sure you are using great nutrient rich soil. Be sure to use potting soil not garden soil. If you are using dirt from the yard, it’s a good idea to mix in a bag of potting soil. If you are just starting out, it’s a good idea to test your soil to see what it may or may not need
6.. Fertilize your plants. When plants are in the ground, they often get nutrients from the earth but container plants have limited resources for nutrients so they also require fertilizer. I like the fertilizers that are specifically designed for container gardening. If you are planting edibles, be sure that you are using a safe, organic fertilizer. Read the fertilizer instructions for application but I would generally recommend every 2 weeks depending on the plant types.
7. Herbs thrive in container garden settings. They also look beautiful and smell divine! They look beautiful combined with flowering plants or on their own with a few mixed together. Herbs thrive in small environments and they love being planted near each other. Plant herbs on your porch or back deck for easy access to use in summer salads and marinades.
8. Water your plants regularly. Again, the care instructions will guide you as to frequency. Some plants need to be watered daily while others can go for a few days. With proper drainage, over watering is less of a concern for outdoor plants BUT it is important that you water the plants on a regular, consistent basis. Plants that become significantly dried and withered often cannot recover and root rot will kills plants.
Here is a list of some of our favorite container plants:
Pictured: lavender with creeping jenny, lobelia, variegated potato vine, and chocolate mint. Note: some mint can really take over, so keep an eye on it as it can easily take over and strangle out other plants. Chocolate mint tends to be less invasive in my area than say peppermint or spearmint.
Suggested Container plants:
Lantana (very low maintenance yet prolific! Does well in extreme heat and can stand drought conditions to a point.)
Geraniums (also very low maintenance. Geraniums with spikes and vinca vine or another low maintenance vine are extremely tolerant and prolific.)
Lettuces (colorful varieties)
Verbena (low maintenance)
small grasses and spikes
sweet potato vine (different varieties)
Rosemary (Rosemary and verbena is lovely!)
Mint (variety of flavors)
Chives (great for edible spikes!)
Coleus (varying shades)
and so many more!
Pay attention to these tips and get creative! Remember: you want some height, some fullness, a bit of a trail and lots of color and texture! Or stick with a color palette in varying textures and have some fun!!