Every year, I like to try new things when designing my flower pots. I have a few favourite designs and have continued to use them year after year, but creating new “looks” is exciting as it is something fresh and how plants grow is not always predictable producing some surprising results.
Planning for my garden starts in the cold months of January, February and March. The search through magazines and online for new plants and trends is an activity I easily get lost in during those cold months. Truthfully, gazing at plants and creating how my pots will look is a remarkable stress reliever! There are a few things I start with when planning my pots. First I consider the colours I want. The last few years included hot pinks, yellows, whites, and purples, but this year I decided to change it up a bit. I usually try to keep the colours consistent in the back and front yards, but then I asked myself, “Why?” This year I chose red, white, purple and yellow for the front and then pinks, yellows, lime green and purples for the back yard.
After deciding colours, I search for trends in plants. As stated above gardening magazines, the internet (Pinterest is full of container ideas) and gardening books are great places to get your ideas for planters. Taking note of planters I see in the city during the summer is another way to find the types of plants that will grow successfully in our area and to see which plant combinations work well together. I keep notes on what I see and what is pleasing to the eye. While the common dracaena spike is lovely and will continue to be a cost effective addition that provides height in a planter, there are so many other choices. What has caught my attention are the purple hues of other dracaena varieties and assorted grasses in planters around the city. Against colours, such as red, pinks, and yellows these plants stand out. They offer height, but their multiple blades grow between leaves and flowers adding depth and interest. This year I selected two varieties. Because of their cost, I will bring them in to over winter. I am hoping they will be able to be divided as I would love to use them in other planter combinations next year. Another trend I observed is the use of lime green potato vine. That vibrant green really stands out against darker purples and hot pinks. I had to try some this year. However, I found they are quite sensitive to cold and wet weather. After a sneaky, late frost I ended up purchasing nine more. Lesson learned is all I can say.
It is also important to consider the type of foliage each plant will add to the container. I add Bidens, which has small and almost fern-like foliage, to pots with wide-leafed Geraniums. Contrasting foliage and choosing different colours of foliage adds interest to your pots.
In order to ensure successful plant growth, I also research the growth requirements for each plant to ensure they are compatible. I need to determine whether the plants require direct sunlight exposure or whether they can tolerate some shade. As well, when grouping the plants, you need to consider if they prefer plenty of water or if they can dry out between watering. In addition to growth requirements, it is critical to know how tall each plant will grow and the room they will need to spread. Having said this, I generally over plant or stuff my baskets and pots. They usually fill out faster and look full and lush from the beginning of spring to fall. Keep in mind the more plants in a container means the more fertilizer and water they will need.
Finally, my choice of plants is really dependent upon whether I like what I see. If I am not absolutely drawn to the colour, foliage shape or growth of a plant I won’t buy it. Planting containers is a highly personal choice and when you look at your planters or baskets you should feel overwhelmed with the beauty you have created and fostered.
I have added some photos of my planters under Pages. If you have any to share, please add them in comments and I will happily post yours.