The how-to's of container gardening

Container gardening is a great addition to any landscape, regardless of the size of your space or theme of your yard. The possibilities are endless-- with the right combination of plants and containers, any area can become an elegant refuge, bold statement, delicate space, whimisical garden, rustic retreat, or festive party.

Container gardening provides instant color, a focal point, and a versatile space that can be rotated seasonally, annually, or whenever the inspiration strikes. The guiding principle behind container gardening is the "Thriller/Spiller/Filler" rule, which refers to the idea of using one main dramatic plant ("thriller") as the focal point of your arrangement; several creepers ("spillers"), and many smaller leaves or flowers ("fillers") to add color and allow for seasonal changes.

Larger containers are easier to grow plants in, since the soil is not as compacted. You can expect to fit about 5-6 plants in an 18-24" container. Remember to consider the size and shape of the root systems when selecting your plants, as well as the growth rate of whatever you choose, and whether the plants are perennials, annuals, or shrubs.

Drainage holes are essential in whatever container you select. To prevent the soil from spilling everywhere, place a paper towel or newspaper at the bottom of your container before adding the soil.

Ideas for container garden "themes":  

  • A salad garden, using lettuce, dwarf tomatoes, chives, and parsley
  • A pizza garden, using basil, tomatoes, and ppers
  • An edible flower garden, using marigolds, pansies, and nasturtiums

Proven winners for container gardening include the following:

ANNUALS: Geraniums, marigolds, wax begonias, scarlet sage, and dwarf dahlias

PERENNIALS: Hostas, daylilies, ferns, lavender, and dwarf conifers

The sky is the limit when it comes to container gardening! Have fun accenting your space in very creative and personal ways.