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