Eye-catching container gardens explode with color as summer sizzles. Fill outdoor living spaces with sparkling hues by setting out pots of plants and herbs to screen views, season family meals and nourish your creative spirit.
Containers let you embrace the joyful wonder of a garden, no matter the size of your yard. Pots of flowers, herbs and tasty vegetables fit gracefully into every setting, including porch, patio or balcony. Tending a garden—even in a pot—inspires reflection and stirs awe as you witness God’s creative genius at work.
This approach to gardening doesn’t require a green thumb. Start with the basics: drainage and soil. Make sure your container has holes for water to drain. Plant roots suffocate in soggy soil, and leaves die shortly thereafter. Choose a commercial, bagged potting mix. Look for blends created for containers. For pots in full sun, mix water-retaining crystals into soil prior to planting and you’ll spend less time watering.
Select plants designed for use in the size of your containers, such as low-profile bedding annuals and small ornamental grasses, or taller choices such as tropical plants. Double-check the light needs for your plants. A full-sun plant won’t perform on a shaded porch; conversely, a plant that craves shade will burn in the sun.
Tried-and-true shade lovers include tuberous begonia, caladium, polka-dot plant, and impatiens. For sunny spots, try petunia, scaevola, salvia, or portulaca, above. Some plants thrive with sun part of the day. These colorful beauties include Dragon Wing begonias, torenia and New Guinea impatiens.
Water when soil is dry to the touch. Terra-cotta pots dry out more quickly than plastic or fiberglass. To reduce watering with a moss container, opposite, line bottom with plastic before adding soil. Poke a few holes in plastic for drainage. Fertilize flowering plants with a water-soluble bloom booster every 14 days to keep the color coming.
Spice it Up
Many herbs thrive in containers, including cilantro, basil, sage, spearmint, oregano and rosemary, above. Place your potted herbs in an easily accessible location, and you’ll be more likely to snip flavorful leaves. If space is at a premium, create a clever garden shelf using an old ladder.
Search your home for galvanized buckets, wooden crates or wicker baskets. Extend the life of wicker by lining baskets with plastic before adding soil. Baskets, above, feature sun-loving white Sutera cordata, cascading pentunia and a flower mix called Red Fox Confetti Garden.
Grow Your Own
Savor garden-fresh flavors from a harvest you tend in containers, above. Traditional vegetables and fruits, like bush tomato, bell boy bell pepper, red cabbage, strawberry and lettuce, can grace your dinner table from a potted patio garden. Tomatoes and peppers yield best in pots at least 12 inches wide; tuck the other tasty plants into pots that are at least 8 inches wide.
Container gardens reflect the gardener’s taste. With almost countless floral combinations, each pot has an aesthetic all its own. This trio of containers, above, will boast color all season long, thanks to collections of strong potted-plant performers, including (foreground) Dark Star coleus, Diamond Frost euphorbia, purple verbena and miniature-flowered Littletunia; (background) trailing Summer Wave Bouquet torenia and white Vanhouette spirea; (right) colorful pink calibrachoa, blue spruce sedum, silver dusty miller, silver falls dichondra and helichrysum.