15 May 2008

Find a Pot and Fill It

Fill Those Pots!
Pots of plants on the front porch, by the driveway or placed in a resting spot in the shade, add an inviting touch to the appearance of your home or business.
Whether you are using last year's containers or purchasing new ones, keep in mind that you are creating an environment for living plants and their roots. The size of the pot, the quality of the soil environment, fertilizer and water are the elements to consider even before plants are selected.
Clay pots allow the soil to dry more quickly and plastic pots are easier to move but their tendency to hold moisture can lead to root problems. Wood containers such as half-barrels and crates make great growing conditions for plants. Cement is difficult to move and retains heat but can be perfect for plants like bamboo. Glazed pots are non-porous and plant roots cannot breathe in them so many gardeners put clay pots inside them.

Drainage holes have to be present in growing containers unless you want to create a water garden with water plants. Many of the new Styrofoam pots work well but you have to put your own drainage holes in them.Use containers large enough to hold the plants roots at their mature size. Gigantic containers hold a lot of water and should have enough plants in them so the soil dries between watering.
Purchase fresh soil for this year's plants. To re-use, dump it out of the pots and remove all remains of old plants; check for insect infestations. Add slow release fertilizer and perlite or vermiculite - about one-third as much as soil. Consider adding moisture retention crystals to the bottom soil.
Most potted plants require daily watering. Water pots late afternoon so plant roots can absorb moisture overnight. Avoid getting the leaves wet. If your watering method always soaks plants' leaves, water in the morning to give the leaves the entire day to dry off. Wet leaves attract insects and diseases.
Light: Will your planter be in the sun or shade half day or all day? Will it sit on concrete in full sun? Will a porch or shrubs protect the plants from harsh wind?

Color: Do you want the colors to blend by having three kinds of plants with red and pink blossoms, blue, purple and white or yellows and oranges? Do you want a large planter with a tree in the center and flowering plants around it? Would your spot be good for an assortment of succulents? What about a collection of shade loving foliage?
When Rose and Ed Meeks of Muskogee get their planters ready in the spring, they don't take any chances on success."I'm home bound, and I like to look out the windows and see it look perfect," Rose said.Ed said he uses fresh soil in their containers every year and he waters with diluted Miracle Grow every time he waters. They fill a 4-foot-long planter box just outside the window with wave petunias, red hibiscus and moss rose.
Designers suggest that gardeners follow the formula they call: Thrillers, Spillers and Fillers.
A tall plant goes in the center of the pot, plants that dribble down the sides are planted around the outside, and fillers are tucked in between. You can use that method or make up something of your own.
Think outside the box a little this year and go beyond marigolds, pretty as they are.
Taller plants for full sun, up to 2-feet — Angelonia or summer snap dragons, Jewels of Opar (Limon), Pentas in pink, hot pink, red and white, Lantana, Castor bean, Silver Dollar Eucalyptus.
Taller plants for half sun — Shrimp plant, Variegated Tapioca, Spikes, Ixora.
Mid-size plants for shade — Hosta, Heuchera, FernsMid-size (1.5 feet tall ) for full sun — Cuphea Ilavea or Flamenco Cha Cha
Fillers for part sun — Ageratum, Mexican heather, heat tolerant Lobelia
Fillers for full sun — Osteospermum (African Daisy), purslane, Bacopa, Diamond Frost Euphorbia, Evolvulus blue daze, scented geranium (Pelargonium), Monkey Flower
Spillers for sun — Million bells, trailing Verbena, Scaevola.Spillers for part sun — Ivy, thyme.
Trellis with Clematis, Bougainvillea, Allamanda, Jasmine, Mandevilla, Passion Vine, Plumbago
Full sun — Succulents with aloe in the center, jade and kananchoe around the outside
Half shade — Elephant ears in the center and pink caladiums around the outside
Full sun — Lime tree in the center with Bacopa and purslane around the side
Front door sun — Columnar skyrocket juniper with any of the filler plants surrounding
If you find a successful combination or your garden is having a beautiful week, contact Muskogee's new television station, INTV, Channel 22. They are looking for flower, vegetable and herb gardens, great pot combinations, and other plant stories. Contact them at 360-3705. Subscribe to their e-mail announcements at http://www.inmuskogee.com/ to receive program information


Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Great article on containers. I love the photo at the top showing exactly what you'll need to grab those pots and fill 'em.~~Dee

Molly Day said...

Thanks, Dee. I wish those pots in the photo were already filled. I'm making progress every day.

The bag contains Fafard organic potting soil. What do you think about the need for organic potting soil?