Ideas for Container Planting

Written by katherine harder
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Ideas for Container Planting
Potted flowers thrive in terra cotta pots. (pot with flowers image by Oleg Gubanov from

If you have limited outdoor space, limited mobility or are bored with your backyard garden, experiment with container planting. Almost any plant thrives in a container, including fruits and vegetables. Find a sunny spot on your back porch or in a bright, open kitchen to set up your container plants.

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Container Ideas

Grow your plants in almost any flat-bottomed vessel, as long as it has drainage holes at its bottom. If you're growing hanging plants, the container can be any shape. Standard plant containers, called pots, are often made from metal, clay, ceramic, wood or cement. You can repurpose other containers, such as old wooden milk crates, a vintage claw-foot bath or an old barrel, to use as plant pots. If you need holes in the bottom, use a ¼-inch drill bit rated for the container's material.

Growing Food

You can grow fruits and vegetables in containers as easily as you can ferns or flowers. Drainage is especially important for food gardening, so drill extra holes if your container only has a few, and add some gravel or small clay rocks to bottom ½ inch of your pot before you add the soil. For the best results, use a soilless potting mix in terra cotta containers. Grow radishes, butter lettuce, carrots, spinach, arugula, sugar snap peas or golden cherry tomatoes in your container food garden. If you have a sunny kitchen windowsill, line up a row of small potted kitchen herbs. Try parsley, basil, silver thyme, oregano and sage.

Flower Garden

Choose annuals for your container garden, since you won't enjoy maintaining a container perennial during the months it's dormant. More showy flowers create a colourful focal point on your patio or sunroom. In her Real Simple article titled "Easy Container Gardens," Madaline Sparks suggests zinnias, floss flowers and rudbeckia for showy container flower gardens. Sparks also recommends weather-resistant plastic pots, time-release fertiliser and regularly cutting off blossoms. Choose flowers of varying colours, textures and shapes to keep your container flower garden visually interesting.

Grow-Together Container Gardens

If you have a large enough pot or box, grow several types of plant in one container. When you combine plants in containers, they twist together to create natural, varied appearance. Use plants with similar moisture and light requirements and don't overcrowd your container. Grow-together gardens aren't always successful, so this container planting idea is best suited for experimental types who won't mind starting over with new combinations. When choosing plants for a grow-together container garden, consider height, colour and fullness; create symmetry by putting equally sized and coloured plants on opposite sides of the container and tall, full plants towards the centre or back.

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