Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Potting Container Gardens - Part 1

Those who know me well know that flowers are a weakness of mine. I suppose if you looked at it from a positive note, they could also be a strength. Having grown up in California I love to be surrounded by flowers all year long. Winter in Colorado doesn't lend itself to potted plants, so I use cut flowers in my home during the winter, but in the spring, summer, and early fall months we fill our flowerbeds and containers with luscious flowering plants. This year I thought I'd share that process with my blogging friends. For those of you who are experienced in potting plants, this may be boring. I'm hoping to give a little advice that I've garnered over the years to those who are less experienced in this area of gardening. Know that I have no expertise here -- just lots of practical experience. By the way, I haven't enhanced these photos in any way -- the colors really are that vivid and bright. (Speaks of the majesty of our Creator, doesn't it?)

I start by purchasing the flowers. This might seem like the easy part, but actually there is a method to my madness when I purchase flowers for my pots. I don't think there are any hard, fast rules to make a container plant "interesting" and beautiful. However, I think there are some simple principles that if followed can help create lovely designs. For me, a container is prettiest when it has a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors of vegetation.

Size: Have you ever seen a container where there are a variety of plants but they are all the same height? Generally speaking, pots like that are not terribly interesting. I try to have at least one tall plant, several medium fillers, a couple of smaller fillers, and one trailing plant in each container. (To put that many plants in a container the diameter of the top of the container must be at least 16".) Having different heights helps the eye travel around the container, which helps one appreciate all the different foliage.

Below are some "tall" plants that have worked for me: spike, Marguerite daisy, cape daisy, osteospermum, African daisy, and nicotiana. Some get taller than others, but all of these have given height to my containers...

My favorite "medium" filler plants are gerbera daisies, geraniums, and coleus. Beautiful, aren't they? The give big pops of color to any container...

Some "smaller" fillers are: nemesia, diascia, lobelia, alyssum, and impatiens. Several of these have a tendency to trail a little, so you'll want to place these on the outside of your container to fill in gaps.

Finally, my favorite trailing plants -- those that pour over the side of the container for dramatic effect are: nemesia, verbena, million bells, asparagus fern, ivy, and vinca.

Shapes: I try to put a variety of shapes of foliage into the same container. Below is an example. I might put a geranium, a spike, an a vinca vine (along with other flowers) into a container. Note the different shapes of the leaves on these plants...

Colors: There are different philosophies for color in container plants. For drama and impact, go for contrast -- colors that are opposite from one another on the color wheel. For harmony and tranquility stay with one color in different shades, like light and dark pinks. I tend to mix these philosophies up a bit and go with colors next to one another on the color wheel and then I add a pop of color. I'll put a light and dark pink geranium in a container, then add some purple alyssum, and then for a pop of color a yellow gerbera daisy, like this arrangement below...

Remember to consider variations in colors of green as well. For example you might want to put a geranium with a variegated leaf and one with a plain green leaf in the same arrangement. Note the variegated leaf on the vinca above.

Above all don't get hung up on these suggestions. I certainly don't follow every one of these rules every time! Go with what you like and what looks pretty and interesting to you! Tomorrow, I'll put up a few more pictures of the planted containers and some tips on care.

Hope your day is sunny!

Linked to:
We're Organized Wednesday @ Organize & Decorate Everything
Show Off Your Stuff Party @ Fireflies & Jellybeans
Be Inspired Link Party @ Room to Inspire
Boardwalk Bragfest @ Bobbypins Boardwalk
Woo Hoo Wednesday @ Always Nesting
Spotlight Yourself @ It's so Very Cheri

19 comments:

Always Nesting said...

Woo Hoo! I love summer flowers in pots but always agonize over what to put together. I know, that's probably not an issue for most people. Thanks for all the great tips for putting stunning pots together. I can't wait to see the finished pots. Thanks for linking to Woo Hoo! Wednesday!!

Lisalulu said...

BEAUTIFUL, I wish you were here, they have assigned me a list of classes to find teachers for (for RS activity) and container gardening is one of them... maybe I'll just print out your "tutorial"

Mary-ham said...

Heavenly.
See you tomorrow!

Jan @ bobbypins boardwalk said...

These are SO beautiful. You have definitely inspired me. Hope you enjoyed your son's graduation! (and thanks for linking to the party!!!)

Emily {Frilly Details} said...

All of your flowers are gorgeous! Great tips too. My all time favorites are spikes, lobelia and vinca vines. Oh I love this time of year!!! I got totally spoiled when we lived in Phoenix for a few years. Nothing like picking up a few annuals to plant outside while doing some Christmas shopping. I miss those days :).

Beth Eaton said...

Flowers are a HUGE weakness for me! I love all that you have done Love it!!!

Jess @ Frugal with a Flourish said...

Those look great! I need to replant a couple of my planters and these are great tips!

gail@myrepurposedlife.net said...

wow! I'm impressed! You are very talented with your flower arranging and your knowledge is blowing my mind! I just try to get "shade" and "sun" plants in the right place! hahah
gail

Stacey said...

Beautiful! That's pretty much the way I do it too. Some of the prettiest pots I've ever had were filled with plants that were left overs. Variety in texture and height is the key, I think. :)

Connie said...

First of all, thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving such sweet comments about my new craft room.

Wow, your information on planting containers was great. I, too, love flowers and have experimented over the years with combinations of plants in planters. Each year I look forward to creating new combinations to see how they work together.

Hugs to ya,
Connie

p.s.
From reading your profile info we have many things in common.

Kenzie said...

The flowers are gorgeous! I just did get my pots planted a couple of weekends ago!

Fawnda said...

Your flowers are beautiful!

Sharon@Keeninspiratons said...

They are beautiful! I received some flowers for my birthday and want to put them in hanging baskets! Thanks for the tips!
Sharon
PS I stopped by from Boardwalk Bragfest

Cathy said...

Wow! How beautiful! I love all of the color!

Enjoy!
Cathy

TheNormanFive said...

Flowers are a weakness of mine too. I would spend most of my money on flowers if my husband would let me. Talking about size: my sister told me that you want Thrill, Fill, Spill.
Thrill - tall plants
Fill - medium size plants
Spill - plants that hang and grow over the planter...
I thought that was a neat way to look at it.
Erin

MiaKatia said...

I love your pots, they really are so beautiful.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Suzanne,
I read your second pots post, and most of this one earlier today, and ended up needing to do something else. I don't remember what. Our 2 year old grandson comes over on Saturdays, so it probably had something to do with him.

I enjoyed your information. I don't tend to plan very much, but get a bunch of plants I like, deciding some combinations when I buy the plants, and others when I start planting. I tend to have a few stragglers that need more plants to go with them. Then, I buy more plants, and have some new stragglers that need friends, and so on and so on. Larry laughed at me today when I said I just need a few more plants. I have been having some problems deciding on combinations lately, and sometimes just fill a pot with one kind of flower. I want to try some of your ideas on the pots I haven't planted yet.

I always leave room for the plants to fill in, too. Larry and I used to argue because I was unhappy with him when he came home with hanging baskets crowded with plants. He wanted them crowded. We finally compromised. He realized those pots he came home with got straggly toward the end of the season, and needed to be watered more often, so he doesn't buy as many. (He hasn't gotten any this year so far.) I plant things closer together than I used to, but still leave room for the plants to grow.

Your pots are looking beautiful to me already. It will be fun to see them as the season progresses.

Thanks again for your well done posts.

Room to Inspire said...

Your flowers are gorgeous - I just got my pots planted! I love that time of year, when the patio is filled with flowers to plant - Summer right around the corner! Thanks for linking up to Be Inspired last week.

Chelsea

Anonymous said...

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