How to plant container gardens

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How to plant container gardens
Photo/Greenstreet Gardens Container gardens provide highly customizable opportunities for gardeners to enhance their home with a variety of colors and textures.
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By Greenstreet Gardens

Follow a few simple steps, and your container gardens will be off to a solid start and ready to fill your growing season with non-stop good looks.

Gorgeous container gardens begin with good soil. For containers, choose a soil mix that’s light and full of air pockets, which is vital for healthy roots, drains well but also holds water and gives roots a boost of slow-release fertilizer.

For your containers, try using Gardener’s Gold Organic Potting Soil. This organic mix combines 85% peat moss with seafood compost, composted barnyard manure and perlite. Peat moss and perlite provide aeration or air pockets. Peat moss also holds water and nutrients, slowly releasing them to plant roots. Seafood compost and composted barnyard manure also provide nutrients.

For terra-cotta containers, hanging baskets, coir or mosslined containers or pots in full sun locations, add a water retention polymer, like Soil Moist. These crystals absorb many times their weight in water and slowly release that water to plant roots. Add polymers to individual pots. Fill pots halfway with soil, then add crystals to ensure they’re near actively growing roots.

Every container needs a drainage hole so water can drain away from the roots. If plants sit in water, roots will rot. Enhance drainage and conserve soil by filling the bottom one-third of your container with inverted plastic pots, juice bottles or butter tubs. These materials occupy space, reducing the amount of soil you need and also provide air pockets for roots.

When planting, remove plants from pots and loosen roots around the root ball. This is especially important when plants are rootbound, meaning the roots have begun to circle the bottom of the pot.

When you tuck plants into soil, set them at the same depth they were in their original container. Planting too deeply can cause stems to rot.

Blend plants with the eye of an artist without ever setting foot in an art class. Try a few of our tips to assemble container gardens that sizzle all season long.

As you select plants for your pots, you also want to consider leaf texture. Leaf textures can be broad and thick, like a caladium or elephant ear, or they can be fine and wispy, like a fern or breathless white euphorbia. What you want to do is play textures off one another.

Mix textures throughout your container so there’s a selection of fine and broad leaf plants. Study the pre-planted container gardens you see at Greenstreet Gardens and in public planting areas around town. The pots that catch your eye will showcase texture blends. Observe which plants look good together, and you’ll master the art of texture.

Mix and match colors in your container in ways that please the eye. If you want to follow tried-and-true color conventions, grab a color wheel. Shades that are opposite each other on the wheel are complementary – red and green, orange and blue, yellow and violet. Hues located beside each other are analogous – blue and violet, or red and orange. If you choose either complementary or analogous colors for your container, you’ll have a striking color scheme. You can also mix colors based on your likes, passions or whatever blends with your home’s exterior. Containers planted in a monochromatic scheme – differing shades of the same color – yield pots that earn rave reviews. For instance, in an all-red container garden, you can use plants with burgundy foliage, cherry red flowers, green leaves with red splashes and pink blooms.

Cool tone or pastel shades tend to disappear in sunny locations. Choose bold reds, yellows or deep blues for those planting spots. If you mainly view your containers in the evening, tuck plants featuring white or silver and light-colored blooms into the mix. These hues glow at dusk.

The best thing about container gardens is how customizable they are. They are a great chance to try your green thumb at different combinations and varieties that fit your home. Give it a shot yourself this spring season!

Greenstreet Gardens is a family-owned, locally-grown garden center business based in Northern Virginia and Lothian, Maryland.

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