Are you looking for some simple tips and tricks for planting beautiful flower containers this season? Here are 11 ideas to help get you started.
It’s that time of year when the garden is turning green and the plants are filling out. The only problem is that there still aren’t a lot of perennials blooming in the garden yet. At least not in mine.
That’s why I love the way that flower container gardening provides instant color in the garden and is a great focal point.
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I’m a self-taught hobby gardener, not a Master Gardener. Everything I share with you on my blog is my personal opinion and things that worked for me along the way.
Tips for Planting Beautiful Flower Garden Containers
1. Choose Plants that Will Thrive in Your Garden Space
Before you even pick out your flowers or container, you need to know which plants will thrive in the area of the garden you are planting them in. How much sunlight and water they will need is essential when choosing plants for your container.
2. Pick Plants for the Right Lighting Conditions
When selecting your plants, make sure you read the plant tags or labels to know whether they grow best in sun or shade.
You don’t want to mix both sun and shade-loving flowers in the same container.
3. Choose the Right Container
When it comes to finding a container for your flower garden, the opportunities are endless. Galvanized tubs and buckets, barrels, window boxes, concrete containers, and terra cotta pots are all great options.
Keep these things in mind when choosing a container…
- Light-colored containers keep the soil cooler than darker ones.
- Terra cotta pots can get easily damaged when freezing and then thawing in the winter so store them inside for the winter. They also tend to dry out quicker so it’s important to water them regularly.
- If you’re going with a wood container, choose a naturally rot-resistant wood like cedar or pine-treated wood with a preservative.
- Metal containers conduct heat so be careful with fluctuating temperatures for the plant’s roots.
Whatever containers you decide to use, it’s essential that they have drainage holes on the bottom.
There’s a myth that you should put gravel or rocks in the container before adding dirt but after doing more research I found that it could actually hurt the plants by blocking the water from draining through the container.
If your pot or container doesn’t already have drainage holes, you will need to drill some yourself. The minimum hole should be 1\2″ in diameter for a small or medium pot, and 1″ for a larger one.
FILLING DEEP CONTAINERS WITH SOIL
Some containers are deep and filling them with dirt will make them heavier to lift and need to be filled with more dirt than you probably want to use.
There are several options to reduce the amount of potting soil you will need to fill the container.
- Recycled Plastics: water bottles, grocery bags, or milk jugs.
- Plastic Pots: used pots and containers from plants make great space holders for the bottom of a large flower container.
- Packing Materials: packing peanuts, styrofoam peanuts. Avoid using packing peanuts made from corn because they will disintegrate when exposed to water.
- Metal Cans: crush them and layer them to fill the bottom of the container
- Natural Materials: leaves, wood chips, sticks, and pinecones. These will all break down over time so these will work better for seasonal planters that get repotted regularly.
4. Tips for Planting the Right Combination of Plants for Your Flower Containers
For the right combination of plants for your flower container, fill it with a tall, showy plant (thriller), a bushy medium-sized plant (filler), and a trailing blooming plant (spiller).
A thriller plant has height and is the “attention-getter” of any flower container.
It’s basically the framework for the entire flower garden container. They’re usually tall upright plants with colorful foliage or dramatic show-stopping flowers that last all season.
Use at least 1 thriller plant in a container. If you will be able to see all sides of the container, plant it in the center with the other plants placed around it. If the back of the container is up against something and not showing, plant the filler towards the back of the container.
Thriller options include:
- Ornamental grasses
- Plants with bright, multi-colored leaves
A filler plant is a flowering plant or foliage that compliments the thriller but doesn’t overwhelm it.
These plants will add color and mass overall and are a textural and colorful contrast. They tend to have smaller leaves and flowers. Their purpose is to fill the container arrangement throughout the season.
Try to use fillers that are between 1/3-2/3 the size of the thriller plant and that contrast in color, texture, and shape.
Filler options include:
- Foliage plants
- Vines when adding a trellis to the container
A spiller is the anchor for the container and is planted last.
These are trailing plants that spill over and out of the container, and should be planted close to the edge. If the container will be seen from all sides, the spillers should also be planted on all sides. If the container will be viewed from only one side, these plants can be planted in the front of the container.
Spiller options include:
- Creeping zinnia
- Creeping Charlie
- Sweet potato vine
- Creeping Jenny
OTHER TIPS ON PLANTING FLOWER AND HERB CONTAINERS
Consider the size and shape of the root system when planting the flowers and plants that will go into your containers. If there isn’t enough room for a plant’s roots and it becomes rootbound, it will probably dry out quicker than you can water it.
Make sure your mix of plants all need the same light, water, and care. Shade-loving impatiens are probably not going to do well in the same container as a petunia that needs full sun.
When planting herbs I will usually use 5 or 6 plants for an 18″-24″ container.
5. Harden Off Your Plants
Make sure your plants are acclimated to the outdoor elements by hardening them off. This is the process where you start introducing the plant to more extreme weather temperatures, wind, sunlight, and overall exposure to the outdoor elements.
If you are buying your plants from a nursery or garden center, ask them if their plants have been acclimated to the outdoor elements.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the process of hardening off your plants.
6. It’s All About the Soil
USE PRE-MOISTENED QUALITY SOIL FOR YOUR CONTAINERS
Fill your containers with quality commercial potting soil. Never use soil directly from your garden. When it becomes dry, it will harden into a solid mass.
Your potting soil should include some of the following amendments:
- peat moss
Make sure you pre-moisten the soil before planting your garden flower container.
FEED YOUR SOIL
I use a slow-release fertilizer when planting my annuals in containers. You can also fertilize every week or two with a liquid fertilizer like a fish emulsion seaweed blend.
Adding a layer of fish compost to my containers helps to feed your plants, retain moisture and give your container a nice appearance.
7. Space Your Plants Accordingly
There are usually spacing guidelines on the plant labels, but I tend to break those rules when it comes to container gardening. I look forward to the flowers filling in as quickly as possible.
Have I gone overboard a few times? Of course, but not very often. And if the container does get too crowded, you can prune the plants back or take a plant or two out and move it to another flower container.
8. Water Frequently
Container plants require more frequent watering than those growing directly in the garden. Water whenever the soil surface feels dry to the touch.
During hot, sunny periods you’ll most likely have to water them every day. This is especially important for hanging baskets that dry out faster because they are buffeted by the wind.
You can use a watering can, garden hose, or install a drip irrigation system with a timer that waters your plants automatically every day. These irrigation systems come in handy, especially for those that have a full schedule or travel away from home often.
9. Prune to Remove Faded Blooms
Both annual and perennial flowers need their old, faded blooms removed regularly. This process is called “deadheading,” which will not only encourage new blooms to produce but will keep the plant from getting too leggy.
On larger varieties of plants, such as geraniums, clip away the spent flower heads with your fingers or pruning shears.
10. Renew and Replace
Some annuals and perennials will begin to look tired by late summer no matter how much you take care of them. Remove the spent plants from the container and replace them with another plant.
11. Clean Up Before Winter
Once your annual flowers have died back, throw them in your compost pile and empty your containers. Ceramic and terra-cotta pots can crack if left outdoors over the winter with soil in them.
If you want to save any perennials or roses you have growing in containers, plant them directly in the garden before the frost.
I hope these simple tips and tricks for planting beautiful flower garden containers have given you some new ideas when thinking about your own gardening.
Leave me a comment below with any questions you may have. I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time,
Happy Container Planting!
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Your container gardens look so pretty kim! Thanks for the great tips!