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Container Gardens Part 2 - The Container is The Foundation

Sure, anything can be a container for your living arrangement but I feel the importance of a planter is generally underated. I think of it as the foundation for your planting - every successful build starts with a solid foundation. So how can your pot choice affect your overall planting?

1. Visual appeal. Nothing gives character to a container design like an interesting pot. I am fortunate to have a very skilled and generous carpenter for a partner and he makes many of our wooden planters like the bed that Olina has claimed as her own until Mom replaces her furry butt with an annual and perennial mix of plants. He also strips down wooden pallets for me to make repurposed pallete planters like this birdhouse.

There are many pots readily available at your local garden centers and some of those ceramic pots are my favorites. So much so I choose plants that will not grow so large that they cover the pot, only frame it. This includes limiting the amount and size of trailers and sticking to more upright plants.

2. Watering requirements. If you ever looked after container gardens in the past you know very well how quickly a full hanging basket or small pot can dry out in the heat of the summer. Choose deeper pots that hold more soil which in turn will retain more water to be available for your plants to drink up. This can cut your watering duties by half (or more!). Also remember that a porus pot like terra cotta or ceramic will dry out faster than plastics and fiberglass so they will need to be watered more often. Also keep in mind that black or dark colored pots heat up and stay warm longer than light colored pots which actually reflect sunlight and keep a pot more cool and moist longer.

3. Weight. Let's face it, those ceramic planters are beautiful but can be VERY heavy as can cement and stone. If you are gardening on your balcony,deck or anywhere that weight is an issue it may be best to stick with containers made of plastic, fiberglass, fabrics or faux bois (fake wood).

4. Utilize vertical space. By adding a trellis to your pot or using a hanging basket and wall planters you can make better use of your small space. The pic below is a container that I made for a client last year where we added several fucshia hanging pots to a trellis with climbing plants to give an umbrella effect.

I choose planters for my clients very carefully. I either find it first and base my whole planting around it or I search extensively to find just the right pot to house a choice plant. Wood, plastic, ceramic, terra cotta, an old shoe or bathtub - all can make great containers when used purposefully in your overall container design. I cover the topic of choosing the right container in many of my container gardening presentations. Check our website often for new speaking events and workshops in your area - I would love to share ideas with you!

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