The Beauty of Container Gardening

Bonnie Nowicki

Lovingly planted garden containers have the ability to transform an outdoor space into a unique focal point, bringing color, texture, and drama to a nondescript area. Whether your landscape space is small or expansive, a dramatic grouping of three or five containers or one stunning planter will bring a feeling of creative fun or an air of elegance to the entire space.

Plants grown in pots visually bring your landscape up to your patios and walkways and draw attention to their beauty and define the space. Depending on the plants you choose, they can also create a sculptural focal point. Agaves, sempervivum, and sedums fit this description. I am partial to succulents, because they are both heat and drought tolerant. They can be planted close together, and they use less water. Some favorites are Coppertone sedum, Red Stem portulacaria, Blue Chalk Fingers senecio serpens, and Black Knight echeveria.

Glazed pots are my go-to choice for planting, because they retain water longer. The larger the pot, the less stress on the plants, since soil moisture and temperatures will be more even. The use of a good container soil mix should ideally contain pumice to keep the soil loose, instead of peat moss, which holds too much moisture. Keep your pots looking well-groomed by removing faded flowers and discolored leaves and stems. Another suggestion is to use a terra-cotta strawberry jar planted with a variety of succulents. Herbs would be another good choice for hot and dry summer planters.

My favorite formula for picking and arranging plants in a container is to use a thriller, filler, and spiller in most pots. A tall thriller centerpiece plant anchors the filler plants and the trailing or spiller plants. Try to purchase plants that have interesting leaves, colors, patterns, and textures for exciting contrast.

So, fellow gardeners, plan out your container zones, paying attention to sun exposure. Partial shade is preferable. Choose pots with good drainage holes, and use quality potting soil that enhances drainage. Also visit local public gardens for extra container-planting inspiration. Have fun creating some garden landscape eye candy.