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Big, Beautiful Summer Containers!
Vera Pappas
This article may be reproduced and/or distributed. Please include this Author Resource. Written by Vera Pappas, Co-owner of Green Nation Gardens, Online Retailer of unique and eco-friendly garden supplies. Visit Green Nation Gardens Today! 
By Vera Pappas
Published on 05/30/2009
The key to planting beautiful, bountiful planters that will make your neighbors jealous, we have a few basic rules to follow: 1) The Bigger, the Better Select a large decorative container

The key to planting beautiful, bountiful planters that will make your neighbors jealous, we have a few basic rules to follow:

1) The Bigger, the Better! Select a large decorative container. 18” – 24” works best.

2) Plant the container where you would like to keep it, or put it on a plant dolly. It will be heavy.

3) Make sure there are drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. If there are none, drill a few in a triangle pattern. The planter should also have a saucer.

4) A drainage medium should be placed in the bottom of the pot, about 2” deep. Recycle broken terra cotta pots or Styrofoam peanuts as your medium. Pebbles work well also, but are heavy.

5) Choose a quality blend of soil. Your plants are only as good as the soil they are planted in. The soil should be loose and light. Fresh potting soil should be used each year for best results.

6) Choose your plants. You will need a variety of plants in different heights, colors and textures for the best effect. This is where you need to use your creativity. Don’t think you have any? Have a child help you. Or, plan ahead. Look in magazines or on the web and write down the names of the plants before you go shopping.

a) First, choose a centerpiece. A tall plant with interesting foliage work best. Suggestions for sun: Canna, Ornamental Grasses, Mandevilla on a trellis, tall flowering perennials (Coneflower, Black Eyed Susan, Penstemon Husker Red) or a shrub such as Sky Pencil Holly. For shade: Calla Lillies, Caladiums, Day Lillies, Spikes or Hydrangea.

b) Next, choose trailing plants. More than one variety works best. Choose three: Two flowering and one foliage variety and alternate them around the planter. Proven winners are always a great choice, and are easily available at garden centers and nurseries. Be sure to look for varieties that will do well where you plant them. Sun or Shade.

c) Last, choose your filler plants. Medium height, bushy plants. Choose one flowering and one foliage variety. Pick colorful plants. Hosta and coleus are great fillers for sun or shade. There are some varieties of Hosta that will tolerate more sun than others, so read the label.

d) When putting all this in your planter, install the plants as they are listed. Fill the pot about half way and place your centerpiece. Then fill around it until the planter is about 2/3 full and install your trailing plants. You may need to adjust the amount of soil depending on the size of the pots you purchased. Place all the plants and then gently fill in around the plants with soil one handful at a time. Be sure to press down between the plants to avoid air pockets. Water thoroughly and re-check the soil levels. Settling may occur, fill in wherever necessary.

7) The final and most important steps for Beautiful, Lush planters are food and water. For large luscious, stunning planters…water, water! Do not let your planters wilt between waterings. The best time to water is early morning, before 10 am. This will keep them stress free during the heat of the day. Planters in full sun will require more frequent watering (often daily) than those in part sun or shade. Plants that are stressed from lack of water will not bloom well or flourish.

A good quality organic fertilizer will keep your plants happy and healthy. Some organic fertilizers are slow release, so feedings are less frequent. Read the label for feeding schedule. A water soluble fertilizer we recommend is Merrill’s Compost Tea. Just drop one tea bag into one gallon of water, let it steep for 20 minutes to one hour and then water your plants as normal. Feed with this product every 2 weeks throughout the growing season and your planters will amaze you!

This process is how the professionals do it. Design and build your planters as early in the season as your area will allow for maximum enjoyment.