What do you see when you look out the family room windows? What is your view from the window over the kitchen sink? What do you look at when you are sitting on the deck?
Your outdoors can be as stylish and attractive as your indoors when you dress up the views with containers of blooming plants. And it’s so easy-much more civilized than digging in the dirt on your hands and knees. Here’s how:
A few large containers are more effective than a clutter of little pots. Look for containers at least 12” in diameter or larger. Really large pots (especially ones with colorful glazes) are very dramatic but too heavy to move around, so plan to leave them in a permanent location. You can slip lightweight utility pots inside that can be changed out anytime.
Plan for unified effect in the display by using similar containers, similar plants, or a consistent color scheme. For instance, cobalt blue pots with yellow or red flowers are dynamite in a sunny spot. Stone-like concrete urns and planters with ivy and ferns have an Old World look on a shady brick terrace. Terra cotta pots look good anywhere and come in a big selection of sizes and shapes. Go for a calico garden effect by planting a wide shallow dish with a mix of pansies or petunias. Or try a feminine look with tubs of pink and white begonias.
Garden pundits differ whether individual pots should be planted with an assortment of plants (often with a tall, grass-like specimen in the center) or a mass of a single kind and color. You decide, but aim for a consistent theme among all the pots in the display.
In our Tallahassee climate, we are very lucky to have flowers blooming all year. Plan to maintain your outdoor display by changing the plantings two or three times a year. Pansies and violas are absolutely cold hardy and bloom all winter. Then go wild in late spring and early summer with a huge selection of marigolds, petunias, salvias and lots more. Late summer and fall are a challenge but a few touch plants like lantana will bloom right through the year. You may want a few containers of permanent plants that look good all year. Boxwood Topiaries are always nice, clipped into cones or spheres. Or try something sculptural like an agave or a small palm.
And finally a few hints to keep the plants growing and looking their best. Use a quality potting soil made for container use. Don’t even think of using dirt; even the best garden soil will pack hard in a container. Always add a slow-release fertilizer like Osmocote when you plant. And every few weeks give the plants a kick in the roots with a watering can full of water-soluble fertilizer. Container plants simply will never perform well without fertilizer. To keep plants from wilting in containers in really hot, sunny areas, try a product called SoilMoist. This funny stuff swells up like Jello when you water the plants and releases moisture back into the soil as the plants need it. Invest in a watering wand and a water breaker nozzle to fasten on the end of your hose. This makes it so much easier to soak the containers thoroughly without splashing the soil out of the pot or getting your feet wet.
You will take such pleasure in your container garden as you sit surrounded by the flowers on the deck, and every time you see them out the window.