By Deborah G. Steele
A beautiful pot decked out with an array of flowering and flowing plants can create an ambiance on any porch or deck that will last all season long.
Container gardening, or growing a variety of plants in a single pot, can spruce up even the most drab entrances when done strategically on front porches or backyard decks.
There are several basic tips to follow when choosing to container garden that will ensure success every time.
"Water, light and soil are the three main concerns," said Jenny Addie of Green Thumb West. "You want to make sure you choose a good potting soil and the container has to drain well. If it doesn't, it's not going to work."
Addie said plants couldn't care less if you use a plain old clay pot or a more decorative ceramic one, so long as you take the necessary steps to care for and maintain your garden.
To start your garden out right, choose a good-quality potting soil and add in a slow-release fertilizer. Soil Moist, a material that looks like tapioca, can be added and helps absorb water and keep the plants moist.
When choosing plants for your garden, the sky's the limit.
"You can get a nursery tray and pick out your plants and arrange them in the tray to get an idea of the color and variety," said Addie. "There's hundreds and hundreds of different colors and varieties available for container gardens."
Addie recommends choosing plants of varying colors and textures to add interest to your pot.
For best and more dramatic results, plant an upright flower in the center, lower-growing plants around the perimeter and a trailing plant along the outer edge.
To maintain that newly planted look in your garden, be sure to give it the care that it will need during the hot summer months. That means plenty of water and adequate light for your flowers to bloom.
"You're all it's got," said Addie. "When you have a plant in the ground, it doesn't dry out as much as those in containers, so make sure it gets enough water."
According to Addie, the typical life-span of container gardens is six months. For a more permanent garden, choose a boxwood or topiary to place in the center of your pot and surround it with plants that can be replaced with the seasons.
"That will give you a little more permanency," she said. "You can rotate it through the seasons by pulling up the summer flowers and planting pansies in your container for the winter months."
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