Warmer Weather and Sunnier Skies? Cue Container Gardening
Don’t disregard the container. The container itself is an architectural element to the garden. Selecting containers that take into account your home’s era, style and colors can really complement the landscape. For instance, terra-cotta (especially with patina) is classic and earthy, urns are popular for formal exteriors, while planters with simple cylindrical shapes in gray, white or black tones complement modern homes. Consider the material and weight of your containers and ABSOLUTELY make sure they have drainage holes.
Mix annuals and perennials. We tend to think of perennials as “in-ground” landscape plants and annuals for "seasonal" containers. However, mixing the two helps extend the beauty of your design and offers continuity of your materials. Many springtime blooming annuals will burn out in the summer heat and will need to be replaced with fresh material, while perennial plants can be added to your garden when their season is past, and with proper care they will grow for years to come. I have developed my own garden over time this way, with perennials that have started in containers and were later moved into the ground.
- Choose plant material wisely. Good design is critical when working in small spaces like containers. Start with taller upright focal plants that are special in form and color. Then add your complementary filler plants which occupy space and hide the soil. Finally, add trailing plants which spill over the edge of your pot, bring drama and add texture. Once you have these basics, adding accents to the mix will make the container more complex and stunning, with appeal throughout the summer. A few of my go-to favorite materials for containers are optic grass, elephant ear, begonia, boxwood, sedum, nasturtium, succulents and herbs.
Pay attention. Plants are living breathing organisms that require care and maintenance. We like to use a slow release fertilizer mixed into our potting soil, to ensure that plants get the nutrients that they need throughout the season. Check the soil regularly to ensure the plants have adequate water. In the hot summer months, plants need to be watered almost daily! Know that there is no such thing as a foolproof plant, even if you cover all your bases, some plants will thrive and some will not...it's one of the things that keeps gardening exciting, challenging and interesting.