Building a container garden is as simple as 1-2-3! I have a theory of what makes for the most beautiful container gardens. It is called the Triangle Theory. The elements to this theory are that you have a tall plant, a thick plant and a trialing plant that are arranged to form a triangle in your container illustrated by the diagram below:
Some examples of tall plants for the sun include:
Cordyline, Purple Fountain Grass, Gaura (Perennial), Canna and Victoria Salvia
Canna Lilies are great as thrillers in containers. Clockwise from top: Tropicanna Gold, ‘Tropical Bronze Scarlet’, Tropicanna and ‘Tropical Rose’ Canna.
Tall plants for the shade include:
Caladium, Coleus and Upright Fuchsia such as the variety Gartenmeister
Here is a great example of a shade container where Coleus is used as the thriller. This variety is called Red Kong.
Caladium is an excellent choice for a thriller when designing containers for shade.
Thick plants for sun include:
Heuchera (Perennial), Superbells Calibrachoa (my favorites are Cherry Star and Dreamsicle), Sunpatiens and Diamond Frost Euphorbia. The Calibrachoa and Euphorbia act as a 2-for-1 plant because they perform as the thick and trialing plant when used in containers.
Clockwise from top: ‘Lime Marmalade’ foliage, beautiful sun container with Heuchera as the thick plant, and ‘Midnight Rose’ with its unique purple leaves speckled in magenta.
Thick plants for the shade include:
Dragon Wing Begonias, Non-stop Begonias, New Guinea Impatiens and Impatiens
Non-Stop Begonias add a HUGE pop of color for the shade. This variety is Non-Stop Mocha Pink Shades.
Trailing plants for the sun include:
Creeping Jenny (working in sun and shade – perennial), Angelina Sedum (perennial)
and Supertunia Vista Bubblegum Petunia.
Creeping Jenny’s golden foliage is so vibrant and beautiful in this container garden.
Trailing plants for the shade include:
English Ivy, Torenia and Trialing Fuchsia
Trailing Fuchsia make the most absolutely gorgeous shade trailer in a container.
One of my secret tips for making containers look good all-season long is to use a liquid fertilizer such as Miracle-Gro Bloom Booster (or a similar bud & bloom fertilizer) every two to three weeks. Think of fertilizer like a vitamin. When people take them regularly we perform better, the same is true for these living and breathing plants. With regular fertilizer, they will perform to their best ability.
Please remember that deadheading your plants is as important as fertilizing them. If faded flowers or seed pods are not removed from a plant it puts its energy into creating seeds and not flowers. Recently, I removed the seed pods from my fuchsia, fertilized them and they are pushing out new buds a few days later. I expect them to bloom well into our first frost. If you are unsure how to deadhead a particular plant, when shopping ask the staff at the garden center. They are sure to be able to help.
It is also very important to maintain the moisture in containers especially during times of drought. If it is really hot where you live, watering once every day may be necessary. A great way to tell is by sticking your finger in the container’s soil. If it is dry, your plants are sure to be thirsty, If wet, feel free to wait another day before watering. Many plants will show signs of dehydration such as puckering or browning on the leaves. Over watering can also be a huge issue. Remembering when creating your container garden that picking a larger container will help decrease the amount of time spend on watering. Since larger containers have more soil to retain moisture, they do not dry out as quickly as smaller containers.
With these simple and easy tips your container gardens should look stunning throughout the season.
Check out my video on this very topic:
Click on the image to be linked to the video.