Making the Most of Container Gardens

Making the Most of Container Gardens

Planting flowers in pots has been around since Victorian times, but is especially popular today in urban/suburban settings where many of us have limited time and space for gardening. Container gardens give us an opportunity to explore our creativity with an almost endless choice of colors, forms and textures as we stay connected with nature by nurturing our plants and adding beauty to our home and workplace. Now that spring has finally arrived here in Northern Virginia, it’s an ideal time to add container gardens to your porch, patio or balcony. 

Here are a few tips to help you plant successfully:

  1. Choose a container with drainage holes so excess water can drain out of the pot. Plant roots must have oxygen and if the pot becomes full of water, your plants will drown.
  2. Use a well-drained potting mix. Most potting mixes include some combination of perlite, vermiculite, peat moss, compost and/or bark. They are formulated to provide the ideal balance of holding moisture for your plants while remaining porous enough for good drainage.
  3. Carefully observe your sun conditions and select plants that will thrive in those conditions. Full sun is generally considered to be 6 hours or more of direct sun per day. However, gardening is not an exact science and plants do not abide by absolute rules. For example, morning sun is of lower intensity than the afternoon sun. So “shade” plants may do well in morning sun, while suffer in the afternoon sun. And “sun” plants may thrive in a shade garden when placed where they get a few hours of mid-day sun. Don’t be too ridged on sun vs. shade requirements and be willing to experiment.
  4. Choose plants that offer season long interest. Of course, flowers are the main event, but also look for interesting leaf colors and textures. Flowers come and go, but the foliage will always be there.  
  5. Check your container gardens daily to make sure the soil is moist. If the soil feels like a damp sponge, it’s time to water. Flower pots can dry out very quickly, especially in full sun and hot weather. It’s best to water in the morning so your plants have the water they need to make it through the day. 

Soon you will discover that taking care of plants is also taking care of ourselves, then you can call yourself a gardener. To pick up your supplies or find out more about container gardening or any other gardening topic, visit Merrifield Garden Center at one of their three nursery locations in Northern Virginia. 

Try These Combinations at Home 

Container for Shade 

  1. Tassel fern
  2. Begonia
  3. Bridal veil 

Container for Sun

  1. Perennial salvia
  2. Heuchera
  3. Supertunia
  4. Dusty miller
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