Container planting has become quite a hot topic with gardeners over
the past few years, and for good reason. There are a number of
benefits to using those versatile containers and today I'll share some
tips and ideas so you can decide if "going container" would work for
A few days ago, I received the following question from a reader:
QUESTION: "I have some large pots that I need to fill. There are six
around the pool and two each at two separate entrances to the house.
Two are boxes and the other eight are urns. I would like some ideas
for possible combinations. I would like to combine evergreens,
perennials, and annuals. Ornamental grasses also, either perennial or
annual. I live in zone 7." - Bill Dubin
ANSWER: Bill, I have planters all around our garden area. Last season
I used grasses and some ground cover, and featured some perennials. I
even included hostas. Here are some that have worked well for me in
Miscanthus I. Red Baron, Pennisetum Karley Rose, Pennisetun Hameln,
Panicum v. Squaw, Miscnathus purpurascens
Blue Angel, Blue Dimples, Patriot.
Ajuga, English ivy, sedum (including Dragon's Blood Red, Blue Spruce
and Baby Tears)
I like any of the achilleas (such as Summer Berries or Paprika that I
described in a previous column) and Clematis.
Here's a basic design tip. If you have a container that will be seen
from all sides, plant your grass or the tallest perennial in the
center of the pot then build the remaining plants around it to give a
layered effect. If the container will be close to a wall or fence and
will be viewed mainly from the front, put the tallest plants in the
back and work forward to the shorter plants in the front.
If you are having trouble deciding which colors work well together,
it's a good idea to go to a local art or craft store and buy a color
wheel which will give a visual guide to color harmony for a very
modest investment. If you can't wait, take a look at an online color
wheel and a basic explanation of the difference between complimentary
and analogous colors at
As that's a long URL, you can click on a direct link when you find
this column at my Web site www.landsteward.org
As I mentioned, container gardening is nothing new, but it is a
growing trend in recent years. As for benefits, one of the biggest is
the mobility factor. "You can arrange the containers for a party on
your patio and then move them to other places in your yard," says
Felder Rushing, a gardening expert at the Web site www.Learn2Grow.com
Among Rushing's other points:
Monitor watering. Plants in containers require more water than those
grown in the ground. Also, the type of containers you choose will
impact the watering requirements. Clay pots are porous and dry out
faster than plastic pots. The smaller the container, the more often
you will need to water it.
Consider weight. That one-pound pot may weigh more than 12 pounds once
you get soil and plant material in it. If you want to be able to move
your containers around, make sure they're not too heavy. As an
alternative, Cheryl and I place some of our containers on specialized
dollies with casters for easy movement. We also place a thick layer of
recycled Styrofoam "peanuts" under the soil in larger pots for
improved drainage and lighter weight.
Consider conditions. In cold climates, containers will be the first to
freeze and in warm climates, they'll hold in heat. Move plants out of
hot baking sun in warmer areas and protect them by placing them in a
garage or shed in freezing temperatures.
Container gardening is a fun and manageable way to enjoy many types of
plants, regardless of the size of your landscape.
The Plant Man is here to help. Send your questions about trees, shrubs
and landscaping to email@example.com for resources and
additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed
newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org