If you want to take your garden to the next level, plant containers are a fun and simple way to add character and volume to your space. The right arrangement of texture, height, and color can go a long way, especially if you’re working with a small planting area. Arlington Parks & Recreation Department’s Urban Forestry Land Manager, Wendy Pappas, suggests these ideas for creating eye-catching plant containers that are sure to bring your garden to life!
It’s important to choose the right type of container for your planter. Whether your planter will be made of clay, metal, plastic, or any other material, it needs to have some form of drainage hole. All plant containers need adequate drainage to release excess water. If the container is a large pot, one drainage hole in the middle may not be enough. If you purchase a plastic container with no holes, you’ll need to drill holes in the bottom yourself. Your best bet is to find containers that already have drain holes to eliminate the drilling step.
Soil For Containers
After you choose your container, you’ll need to decide which type of soil to add to the container. For small planters, a standard potting soil mix will work just fine. If you have a very large planter, you may consider adding filler material beneath the soil to take up space. This will allow for better drainage than filling a large planter entirely with soil, and it will also make large containers much easier to move. Some common filler materials are pool noodle pieces or packing peanuts. Just make sure your filler material is lightweight and will allow water to filter through to the bottom of the container rather than pooling.
Of course, choosing plants for your containers is the most exciting step! This mostly depends on personal preference and how you want your container to look. For a normal flowering planter, it’s a good idea to choose something that will grow tall for the middle of the pot. One option is an ornamental grass, like purple fountain grass or even a feather reed grass. Other plants that look nice as a tall accent are Elephant Ear, Hibiscus, Canna, Dracaena, or even a small Boxwood or Holly. The key is to find something you like and build from there!
After choosing a plant for the middle that will grow tall and add height, you can choose a nice flowering plant to surround that. Some great flowering plants for pots include Petunia, Begonia, Angelonia, Euphorbia, or maybe a Coleus if you’d like to include some bright foliage. Lastly, fill in the remaining space in your planter with something that will hang over the sides of the container. Some options for this include vines like Potato Vine, Ivy, String of Pearls, or Jasmine.
To get the most volume out of your container, make sure to fill it with plants but leave a little room for growth. Containers often do very well with fertilizer, so fertilizing once a month with something like Miracle Grow can do wonders for your plant containers.
Last step: Enjoy being the envy of the neighborhood.
Danica Dodson is a horticulture specialist with the Arlington Parks & Recreation Department.