Healthy & Beautiful Gardens – Potted plants in the landscape

Hello fellow gardeners, this week I’d like to talk about how to incorporate plants in pots into your landscape. First, let’s examine why you might want to do this. Let’s say you have plants that like well-draining soil, cactus would be a good example, and your soil is clay. Rather than re-doing the entire garden’s soil regularly, you could instead put these types of plants into clay or terra cotta pots.

Clay/terra cotta “breathes,” in other words it is porous, allowing soil to dry out quicker and thereby preventing the roots from suffocating and/or rotting as they might do in the ground or in plastic pots. Pots enable you to have plants in an area that might not otherwise be able to have plants – on a patio, for example.

You want to be sure your potting soil is correct for your plant. Again, with the example of succulents or cactus, you would be adding about 1/3 perlite, possibly ¼ sand, and then I like to throw in some real “dirt” and some worm castings. If you’re potting something like a mini rose, geraniums, or other perennials, you can just use straight potting soil with a handful of timed release fertilizer.

Let’s talk about aesthetics now. A few large potted plants look better than dozens of plants in small mis-matched pots. Try to have similar plants grouped together utilizing similar pots. It’s hard to go wrong with clay and terra cotta, they’re my personal favorites, but there are some gorgeous ceramic pots available in every color of the rainbow. I would recommend using one color, possibly two at most. Try to pick a color that goes well with the garden and I like to pick up a color from the house itself, the trim color for example. Mine is blue, so a few large, strategically placed blue pots would look great in the landscape.

If I was potting cactus, I would probably not only use terra cotta, but would use the Mexican clay pots that are pretty inexpensive and come in many different shapes to compliment the southwestern look of the plants in them. You can grow just about anything in pots, from fruit trees and roses to herbs and succulents; you’re only limited by your imagination and creativity.

You don’t have to have these potted plants sitting on the patio either. Feel free to actually put them out in the landscape but don’t forget to water them. If you utilize drip irrigation you can run a ¼ inch line into the pot from the rear so that the line is not visible, then you don’t need to worry about watering at all.

Growing plants in pots has several distinct advantages as they are moveable, so if you’re the type of person who likes to “rearrange” things occasionally, you will love growing some plants in pots as I do. One other thing I’d like to point out, if you’re using a large pot, once its full of soil and a plant it can be very heavy, so if you ever think you might want to move it, be sure to purchase a plant caddy. It’s a small platform with wheels on it that you will set your pot and saucer on, thereby enabling you to move it easily about, on a hard surface of course.

Potted plants are ideal for those living in apartments with balconies, or even with sunny windows. For people who rent, you can take potted plants with you, and anyplace you’d like a splash of color in your garden and would like to be able to change it seasonally. It’s also fun and creative to combine several types of plants in one large pot – get creative with it, but keep the plants similar in water needs.

As always, I’m available for consultations and design work. Now get out there and have fun in the garden!

Linda McDonald


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