Mother’s Day Container Gardening

Michelle Provaznik, Director, The Gardens on Spring Creek

Moms who love the garden are fortunate that Mother’s Day and our frost-free date are so close together. My Mother’s Day weekend always includes a trip to a local nursery. I stock up on veggies, new perennials, and my favorite – annuals for our flowerpots. I enjoy trying new plants, color combinations, and mixing textures. You can be successful at container gardening if you follow a few simple steps.

Containers:  Just about anything that holds soil can be used as a container. When purchasing a container consider your options:  

  • Plastic will retain moisture but can break down over time
  • Wood containers will rot over time so make sure it is made of cedar, redwood or lined with plastic
  • Terra cotta allows moisture to evaporate from the entire surface so plants will need to be watered more often
  • Glazed pots will retain moisture and should last for many years

Regardless of the type you use, make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom.  his will keep the soil from getting waterlogged. Filling very large containers with soil can make the pot too heavy to move. One trick is to fill the planter half-way with inverted plastic pots and then place soil over those. Check your recycling bin – milk jugs work well too.

Soil:  Soil from your garden is not ideal for containers. A good potting soil works well. Many soils currently available contain time-release fertilizer and moisture control additives which can be beneficial.

Plants:  When selecting plants for your flower pots, consider the following:

  • Location-Based on where your containers will be located, there are annuals for sun, shade, or both. Plant tags will let you know the light requirements and most nurseries separate plants accordingly.
  • Sizes – Generally, you want containers to have three sizes of plants:  tall, medium (filler), and trailing. But you can also make a bold statement by filling a container with one striking plant or many of the same plants. The possibilities are endless.
  • Color combinations – Be creative!  Be bold! This is the fun part!  Pick your favorite colors or try something new.

Water:  Because containers are an artificial environment, they need more frequent and regular watering. Water needs will vary depending upon the size and type of container, its location, and plant varieties. For those of you who have trouble remembering to water your containers, add them to your drip irrigation system. This trick has been indispensable in our household.

Fertilizer:  Container gardens need to be fertilized regularly. There are several organic fertilizers (granular or liquid) you can add when you are watering. Time-release fertilizers also work well. Just be sure to follow instructions on the label regarding application rates and timing.

I enjoy receiving flowers on Mother’s Day, but I love giving and receiving container gardens more. They are enjoyed by many and last for an entire season – what a great gift!  

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