How to Grow: Designing a Container Garden

Learn to design and care for a container garden including plant selection, best pots, soil and maintenance techniques.

Designing a Container Flower Garden

Transcript

I’m Charlie Nardozzi of the National Gardening Association. Today I want to show you how to design a container flower garden. Containers can be used to create gardens in almost any location whether it be a balcony, deck, patio, on a rooftop or right in the garden. What you need to have is the right pot for the right plant. As long as it is sturdy enough to hold the soil and plants and has drainage holes it can be used as a flower pot. In fact, I’ve used an old shoe as a container. More practical gardeners tend to use three different types of pots; clay pot, ceramic pots, and plastic pots. Clay pots are great because they have a very old-fashioned look to them. You can grow plants that like dry conditions because they tend to dry out, like geraniums for example. You have to be careful because they can break really easily. Ceramic pots are really nice because they’re so beautiful and you can put so many different decorative plants in them. The only problem is a lot of times they don’t have drainage holes in the bottom. Here’s a trick to get around that. Take a plastic pot that is one size smaller, insert it in your ceramic pot and plant into that. That will provide enough drainage for your plant to survive. Then there are plastic containers. I love these because they’re decorative, they’re lightweight and they’re really durable. The ones I like the best are the self-watering pots. These have a water reservoir in the bottom. The dry soil in the plant will suck up the water. This lets you go away for a weekend and not have to worry about watering your plants. There’s one more thing I want to show you about containers especially if you have a large container. Most people don’t realize that plant roots only go down about 8 to 10 inches deep in a container. So you waste all that space by filling it up with soil. Here’s an easy solution. Fill it up with plastic containers like empty soda bottles, milk bottles and milk jugs. You can put the potting soil on top and it’ll make it a lighter weight container and will save you some money.

Now let’s pot up a container. I have this self-watering container here. It’s about 16 inches in diameter and that’s a nice size to use. The bigger the pot, the less maintenance it’s going to take because there’s more soil to stay moist and fertile. The first thing you want to do is fill it up with potting soil. You don’t want to use regular garden soil because that is going to compact right in the pot and it might be filled up with insects and diseases. You want to fill up your pot with your potting soil right up to the rim and then moisten it really well. Let it settle down a little bit so you have maybe an inch or two right along the rim that’s free. This little spout here is actually the self watering funnel so you don’t have to worry about. The plants are going to cover it right up.

There’s lots of things to consider when you’re designing a container flower garden. You want to select plants that have the same sun, water, and temperature requirements but also you want to select plants are going to fill out the whole container. It’s called selecting a thriller, filler, and a spiller.

For our thriller, I’m going to use this beautiful daisy. I’m going to pop it in right in the top here in the center of the container. This is going to create a vertical element in the container and really draw your eye to this beautiful pot. For the fillers, that are going to go around the thriller. I’m going to use some ageratum. These plants don’t get as big. They fill out around the edges of the daisy plant and create a nice bushy effect right inside the container. You can use all different kinds of plants as fillers as long as they don’t get bigger than your thriller.

Finally you want a cascading plant for the spiller. These are plants that will cascade over the edge of the
pot. They’ll drape themselves down there providing color all around it. This one is a lobelia. It’s a beautiful flower to use. Just plant them right along the edge and that way it makes the container seem even larger than before.

Now it’s time to fertilize. The easiest way to do that is to use time release fertilizers. These golden, little pellets, using maybe a tablespoon or so, are put in each one of the containers. You just sprinkle them around inside and every time you water they’re going to release fertilizer. To fertilize your whole plants you may still have to supplement with some liquid fertilizer but this is a good place to start.

Other than that put it out in the full sun, rotate it so it doesn’t lean so much, protect it from any storms or high winds and if plants get overgrown or ratty-looking don’t be afraid to just rip them out and put some new ones in. The beauty of container gardening is you can change it over two or three times during the season. So whether it’s clay, ceramic, or plastic pots or a pot with a little soul get creative with your container gardens.

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