All photos are Gina’s
Happy Spring! As the garden season of 2013 begins my thoughts turn to creative, budget-friendly containers. Containers for flower gardening don’t have to be in a container at all. Look around your basement, garage or shed and you might surprise yourself as to what you can find to put a plant or two in.
I have “recycled” an old pair of ski boots, a charcoal grill and picnic basket into planters, adding whimsy, to the garden. Don’t have a garden or yard? No problem as small areas such as a windowsill, apartment balcony or doorstep can provide enough space for an imaginative container garden.
Secrets to Great Container Gardens:
Successful container gardening starts with soil preparation. Many gardeners have found “soil-less potting mix” works very well. It drains quickly, is free from soil-borne diseases, insects, and weed seeds; and is lightweight. However, if you’ve got the ingredients, you can mix your own with one part each of peat moss, garden compost and coarse sand. Be sure to add some slow-release fertilizer to the mixture, too.
Moisture retention and adequate drainage are also important considerations. All containers should have holes a minimum of ½ inch across. Raise containers up on bricks or rocks to allow for good drainage and airflow. You can also line porous containers with sphagnum moss or landscape fabric to help retain moisture. A large container can be partially filled with crushed empty cans or plastic milk jugs. Add the soil mixture. By doing this the container will be lighter in weight.
Containers can dry out very quickly depending on their location. Full-sun locales may need to be watered twice daily while cool shady spots only a few times a week. When watering, soak thoroughly until water seeps through the drainage holes. Frequent watering also increases the importance of fertilization; it’s a good idea to use a dilute liquid fertilizer with every other watering. Check the labels on the products to make sure they contain a complete, balanced solution that includes trace elements.
What to Plant: Think Beyond Blooms
When planting your container, don’t limit yourself to just flowers. Try a mix and match of annuals, perennials, vines, vegetables, tropical’s, prairie plants and succulents — almost anything is possible. Whatever you select, be sure to plant different types of plants so you can get successive bloom throughout the season. To make an eye-pleasing container, chose plants that have interesting foliage, blossoms, shapes and textures and brilliant colors.
- Blooming Backyard BBQ: Themed containers are fun and useful, such as that old charcoal grill filled with herbs like parsley, dill, chives and tarragon. It becomes a true griller’s delight with some red and white geraniums mixed in for color.
- Butterfly Garden: A combination of dwarf zinnia, cleome and phlox planted in a worn-out picnic basket will attract butterflies and your garden will be aflutter with activity in no time.
- Shade Garden: Don’t let a sun-dappled nook in your garden hold you back; many shade-loving plants will flourish there in a pair of discarded ski boots such as begonia, lobelia, impatiens and coleus just to name a few.
Container gardening lends itself to attractive plantscaping throughout your garden, and almost anything will do as a container — wicker baskets, old chairs, boxes. Just use your creativity. Next time you see an old wagon or a discarded wheelbarrow; this could be your next container, adding an exciting element to your garden decor.
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