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Last Update 06/03/08

Pull Up A Chair

And Pot Up Some Dreams

Pot Plants!Once you get in the spirit of container gardening, you'll be amazed at how many places you'll find to tuck a basket or pot. You can experiment with textures, colors, and varieties of plants. Some colors will melt your heart each time you see them. Some leaves will be so aromatic that you'll pinch 'em as you pass. Vegetables in pots will surprise you with succulent harvests. Each pot can have a different reason for being, but together they will brighten your life, warm your soul, and beautify your home.

Gathering your containers

There are all kinds of containers from which to choose. Pots can be square or round, big or small, natural or man-made. There are windowboxes, racks, liners, and flat-backed hanging planters. Don't forget baskets - plastic, wire, woven, and wicker. Big barrels and boxes can hold exotic plants, conifers, or shade trees. The only caveat is that your container be clean.

Add a bit of whimsy to your garden by using old kitchen containers, elderly wheelbarrows, watering cans, boots, tires, or outgrown toys. Size? No problem. Big pots will hold lots of normal-sized plants - or one or two big ones - and the tiny containers will draw attention to those really sweet little shallow-rooted plants that otherwise become lost among large ones.

Once you begin to think about where to put these moveable gardens, your creative juices will flow. Look for fences and porch railings to embellish - balconies and windows to highlight.

Pots, boxes, barrels, or baskets do a great job of hiding stumps, or they can contain climbing plants to hide (or highlight) whole walls and buildings! By lining walkways and placing containers on steps, you may use them to warn of grade changes too. Is your garden small? Hanging a pot or two on a pole creates verticality that has the effect of enlarged space. You can soften a patio corner, fill a hole in a garden bed, or use a container as an eye-stopper at the turn of a path.

Choosing your plants

Look around the house and garden before your trip to the nursery. Let a couple houseplants out of their house-pots to spread their roots in outdoor containers for a time. Designate a pot for the seeds you've been saving. Want a climber? Insert a branch or twigs upright in a pot, and grow moonflowers and morning-glories. Bulbs, tubers or corms that never got planted in your garden beds can be slipped in with your other plants for fun. There are always plants in the regular garden beds that need to be divided or thinned. Put those extras into your containers for yet another approach.

Now you're ready to go to the nursery to choose what you want in your pots. You might decide to limit your palette and choose certain colors of flowers or leaves. Maybe you'll only choose things you don't know, so you can expand your knowledge of plants.

Container GardenMaybe you'll pot geraniums in a container with vinca on the outside and a tall spikey thing in the center, because it reminds you of home and your mother or your grandmother. Use that same potting-up principle of 1) a drapey thing, 2) a sturdy thing, and 3) a soaring thing - and try to accomplish the same effect using different flowers or leaves. Luxuriate in lots of choices of plants - big and small, bold and shy, familiar and foreign.

The magic ingredient

While you're at the nursery, stock up on the magic ingredient for all container gardening - potting mix. In most cases, the regular soil out of your garden beds is too nutrient poor and filled with weed seeds to be used for potting. The consistency of potting mixes helps to assure your potted plants a nutrient rich soil without weeds. This is a good start for a long healthy life for your potted plant.

Pull up a chair and pot on

On your quiet deck - down your shaded path - in your private potting shed - pull up a chair and pot up your containers. Fill them to overflowing. Plant abundantly, for many plants will all thrive in the container together. The care and love you show by creating these containers will soon be repaid by beautiful plants.

Water is key 

Share the job of watering with Mother Nature. If rain is plentiful and available to the pot, you need not do anything, as long as you've chosen potting mix with nutrients already included. However, your containers definitely need to be watered. That's fun too, for each day will present change, growth, and beauty in your creations.

Color, fragrance, and bounty will cascade out of each pot, and you'll find yourself creating more plantings just for the pleasure they bring.

Sources:  This article was written by The Scotts Company with content assistance from Jane Johnson, horticultural lecturer and consultant. Illustrations FloridaGardener.com.

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