Easy Container Gardening

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Container gardening is a great way to add color and interest to the garden. For apartment dwellers, containers create a space to grow flowers, herbs or veggies on a balcony or patio. Although I have a large backyard garden full of perennials and herbs, and a raised bed veggie garden, I love including containers. I can change the annuals in the containers each year. And I can use a variety of interesting and often repurposed items in my garden space.

Use these easy container gardening tips, to create your own unique containers.

Easy Container Gardening

Choose a Container

I have more than 30 containers on my front porch and scattered throughout my garden. A few of those are classic clay pots or traditional plastic flowerpots, however most of them are repurposed containers. For container gardening, I love finding new uses for objects, in my house and in my garden.

Here are possibilities that can be converted to garden use:

  • metal containers of all kinds, including toolboxes, buckets, colanders, deep trays, boxes, water troughs, wash tubs and watering cans. If it can hold dirt, it can serve as a container for flowers. Metal baskets, attached to fences or walls can hold containers.
  • plastic containers including boxes, tubs, and bowls
  • wheelbarrows
  • wagons
  • wooden objects such as boxes, drawers, chests, and for holding containers, chairs and tables
  • Natural objects such as tree stumps

Drill drainage holes in the bottom of metal, plastic or wooden containers so that the dirt doesn’t stay water logged, which is bad for the plants. If the container is deep, this isn’t necessary.

If the container is very porous, add a coconut liner to hold the dirt in and allow water to drain more slowly. Purchase a roll of liner and cut to fit the container.

For less porous containers, add a layer of pebbles to the bottom or line with coffee filters, to slow drainage. Fill with potting soil. The container is ready to plant.

Easy Container GardeningA variety of clay pots grouped with maple tree stumps, all holding colorful vinca.

Easy Container GardeningThis grouping is composed primarily of metal containers, including buckets, colanders and a metal shelf holding three containers. They hold tobacco plants, portulaca and polka dot plants. The old chair serves as a holder for a bucket. A minnow bucket, hanging above the chair, becomes a candle holder.

Easy Container GardeningA copper watering can holds a Trailing Mazus. I hang this container from a shepherd’s hook, in the hosta garden.

Choosing Plants

There are many easy to grow and maintain plants to choose from for containers. Check out 10 Low Maintenance Annuals and 13 Easy Herbs to Grow for ideas. Or visit Lowe’s Garden Center for inspiration.

In addition to those, other great container plants are:

  • coleus
  • polka dot plant
  • tobacco plant
  • salvia (low growing)
  • verbena
  • lobelia
  • sweet potato vine
  • African daisy
  • succulents
  • ivy

There’s no right or wrong way to plant a container! Group different colors of the same plant or create a monochromatic grouping. Plant two or three flowers in small containers and group them together on a baker’s rack, bench or in a wire basket. Or combine a variety of plants together in the same container.

One idea is to plant a taller plant, such as Miscanthus, a small ornamental grass, in the center of a large container. Add mid height plants such as coleus or geraniums around the taller plant. Fill in along the edge of the container with a vining plant or one that spills over such ivy or lobelia.

Have fun creating the look that suits your container and your space.

Easy Container Gardening Begonias and coleus in clay pots, within a vintage box and on a bench. These shade loving plants thrive on a covered porch.

Easy Container GardeningRed pentas are surrounded by white and purple lobelia in a large oval metal container.

Easy Container GardeningSucculents in a metal colander.

Caring for Container Gardens

Once they are planted, container gardening truly is easy. Know whether the plants require sunshine or shade and place them accordingly. My lists of plants indicate this.

Water as needed. My well established perennials need very little watering during the summer. As long as it rains once a week or so, they are fine. However, containers dry out quickly. During the hottest part of the summer watering containers is a daily chore. Choose mornings or evenings so that temperatures are cooler and the plants can enjoy a long drink of water.

Even plants in shady areas need to be checked frequently, although they may not have to be watered daily.

Remove spent blooms on flowering plants, to encourage continued flowering. And some plants benefit from an occasional light application of fertilizer or plant food. Watch for some DIY plant care products in an upcoming Summer Gardening Tips.

With very simple, basic care, you can enjoy the rewards of container gardening! Those traditional or repurposed containers will provide color and scents throughout the summer until the first frost.

Backyard Garden Series

Check out the rest of the posts, in this informative series:

Spring Garden Tips

Ecological Garden Hacks

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

10 Super Easy Perennials to Grow

10 Low Maintenance Annuals to Grow

Growing Clematis Babies

DIY Natural Mosquito Repellent

Easy Container Gardening

Here’s an assortment of fun containers, to get you started!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Surrender 115: Playing with Colors

This spring day was gorgeous…warm, but with a cooling breeze, sunny, but with occasional cloudiness. It was the perfect weather for spending the day outdoors, working in the garden. I say working, because I accomplished so much. However, playing would be the more appropriate word, playing with colors and containers. 


Three gardening projects drew my focus. 

I planted most of my containers today, 27 of them. I have seven more to plant tomorrow, but I’m very happy with today’s results. My Aunt Annie’s old red box received its summer update, with flower pots filled with begonias and coleas. More begonias fill containers next to the box. The shallow bowl was another treasure from my aunt’s house, pressed into service holding flowers. 


The yellow baker’s rack was filled with a variety of colorful containers and equally colorful flowers and plants. I saw a quote once that said that gardening is an art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and that’s my experience. I focus on creating pleasing arrangements that balance color, look whimsical and have touches of surprise. 


Pleased with the finished front porch, I filled containers in the backyard garden…


…and turned my attention to the second project, planting perennials that my friend Beth gave me from her garden. I love how gardeners are so willing to share, both knowledge and plants. I visited Beth and viewed her charming garden, and left with native phlox and Becky shasta daisies. I hope to return the favor by giving my friend plants from my garden that she doesn’t have. These new plants were tucked into the ground, successfully filling a couple of bare spots in my southern border. 


Before completing project three, I considered how I could use several objects in my garden. Every container has possibilities, and my imagination fired with ideas for two vintage cone colanders that once belonged to my aunt…


…and a minnow bucket that Greg brought to me from a friend’s yard sale. Plants will go into the colanders and the solid bucket. The interior of the minnow bucket will make a whimsical candle holder. More on these projects later!



Finally, I completely redid a section of the garden. I had a great idea for the space just inside the Peace Gate, as shown in the picture above from 2014. I still like the way it looked. However, in reality the idea wasn’t practical and didn’t work. When it rains, water comes under the fence and floods the area, creating a little river that follows the path. I can’t keep mulch in the area, as the water carries it away and deposits it around the corner. 


Janet Kilburn Phillips says, “There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”  I acknowledged that this experiment failed. Time for a fresh idea. With Greg’s help, five slabs of concrete, left over from a demolished sidewalk, were repurposed to create stepping stones. Forgoing mulch, I am filling in the area with ground cover. 


I’m very pleased that I’m partially accomplishing this task by using creeping phlox from the garden of Greg’s mother. Leta had a beautiful phlox garden. Although it’s been at least 20 years since that garden has been tended, the phlox returns every spring. This weekend I dug up the creeping phlox and brought it home. This  re-created space is currently muddy and raw looking, and I’m going to love it. 

What an incredibly lovely day, engaging in one of my favorite activities. I’m tired, and wind blown, and extremely thrilled with today’s creative playtime. Oscar de la Renta is the person who said, “Gardening is how I relax. It’s another form of creating and playing with colors.” I totally agree! 

Journey 113: Repurposed Toolbox

  

I’ve been anticipating getting to repurpose this awesome red toolbox that I picked up at the last 2 Friends & Junk Show. I’ve known since I purchased it where it would go. 

Today I snatched time between appointments to roll up my sleeves and plant in this fun metal container. With the lid propped open, I filled the box with rich soil and added 5 white Pinto Geraniums. These pint sized plants smell and look like their full sized counterparts, but stay compact and produce loads of flowers. I chose white to contrast with the red box. The geraniums are cute, and cute is the look I was going for. I hope the toolbox doesn’t mind!

  
Checking my phone, I found I had time to plant five terra cotta pots and my vintage green and white planter with an assortment of Portulaca, Asters and Gazanias in yellows, pinks, whites and bronzes. More containers will be aded to this section just inside the Peace Door, however I was pleased with what I accomplished today. 

Lastly, I added pale pink Calibrachoa to the washtub in the “Memorial” corner. I will complete that area soon, with the fireworks flowers. I am also looking for a thistle type flower that grows well in my area, in honor of Mindy. All is coming together perfectly. And perfect are these moments stolen out of a busy day, spent in the garden. I left refreshed, and look forward to my next soulful, garden journey.