Category Archives: Container Gardening

Plant Flower Bulbs For Beautiful Container Gardening

As a group,flower bulbs are outstanding plants colorful, showy, and generally easy to grow for container gardening. Many have evergreen foliage; with others, the leaves ripen after flowering and the bulbs are stored and started again, year after year. Some flower bulbs are hardy, others, tender, though what is, and is not hardy, in a particular area is a matter of winter temperature averages. In cold regions, tender tuberous begonias, gloxinias, and calla lilies can be treated like summer in container gardens. This gives the gardener a wide variety to grow from earliest spring to late fall.

Dutch flower bulbs include crocus, snowdrops, eranthis or winter aconites, chionodoxas, scillas, grape hyacinths, leucojums or snowflakes, Dutch hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips, the pride of northern spring gardens. Though hardy, they are not adapted to garden containers outdoors where temperatures drop much below freezing. They require the protection of a shed, unheated cellar or cold frame. Gardening Pots can also be dug into a trench in the ground for the winter and covered with a thick blanket of marsh hay or straw. Where temperatures do not go below freezing, Dutch flower bulbs can be left outdoors in gardening pots over the winter.

For best results in a container garden, start with fresh, firm, large-sized flower bulbs each fall. Insure good drainage in the bottom of each garden pot and use a light soil with bone meal added. If in clay pots, plunge during the rooting period in damp peat moss to prevent rapid drying out. If this occurs too often, roots will be injured and flowers will be poor. When weather permits, after the danger of freezing passes, put your container garden outside where they are to flower or in a nursery row until they reach the bud stage. After blooming, move your container garden where foliage can ripen unseen.

For fragrance, concentrate on Dutch hyacinths, excellent for bedding large planter boxes or raised beds. Daffodils look well grouped around trees or large shrubs, as birches and forsythias. Tulips, formal in character, combine delightfully with pansies, violas, wall flowers, forget-me-nots, marguerites, English daisies, and annual candytuft in container gardens.

As already indicated, in cold areas, Dutch flower bulbs cannot be potted or planted in small window boxes and left outdoors unprotected for the winter. They can, however, be set out in large planters and boxes, deep and wide enough to contain plenty of soil. The garden pots should be one and a half to two feet deep and about two feet wide. Set flower bulbs, with at least six inches of soil above them, planting them early enough in the fall so that they can make root growth before soil freezes hard. In penthouse gardens in New York City, Dutch bulbs have been grown successfully in this way, but it is always a risk. It makes no difference whether garden pots are made of wood, concrete, or other material; it is the amount of soil they hold that counts.

Actually, it is not the freezing of the soil that injures flower bulbs (this occurs in open ground), but it is the pressure and counter pressure exerted by frost on the sides of containers, which are firm and do not give. As a result, flower bulbs are bruised and thrust out of the soil, their roots torn. Where there is no hard freeze, but sufficient cold weather, hardy flower bulbs can be grown successfully in garden containers of small size.

Here is a partial list of flower bulbs that thrive in container gardens. They will help you with your container garden design

Achimenes are warmth-loving trailing plants with neat leaves and tubular flowers in blue, lavender, red and white. Related to gloxinias and African violets, they are nice in hanging baskets and window boxes or in garden pots on tables, shelves, or wall brackets. Start the small tubers indoors and give plants a sheltered spot with protection from strong sun and wind. Achimenes, an old standby in the South, is worthy of more frequent planting.

Agapanthus or Blue Lily of the Nile is a fleshy-rooted evergreen plant, with strap leaves, often grown in tubs and urns on terraces and steps during the summer, when the tall blue spikes unfold. Culture is easy, but plants require a well-lighted, frost proof room or greenhouse in winter. This is an old-time favorite, often seen in the gardens of Europe. It is a perfect flower bulb for container gardening.

The Calla Lily is Showy, and outdoors in warmer regions, but a tender pot plant in the North. Most familiar is the white one with large, shiny, heart-shaped leaves. Start bulbs indoors in February or March in rich soil and, when weather settles, transfer to large gardening pots and take outdoors. Calla lilies do well in full sun or part shade, are heavy feeders and need much water. There is also a dainty yellow one with white-spotted leaves. Rest your flower bulbs after foliage ripens and grow again.

Colorful and free-flowering Dahlias provide bounteous cut blooms. Tall, large-flowering kinds can be grown only in large planters and boxes, but the dwarfs, even freer flowering, are excellent in small garden containers. Attaining one to two feet tall, they grow easily from tubers in average soil in sun or part shade. They may also be raised from seed sown indoors in February. If tubers are stored in peat or sand in a cool, frost proof place, they can be grown for years. Check bulbs during winter, and if shriveling, sprinkle lightly.

Gladiolus, the summer-flowering plant has spear like leaves and many hued spikes. Corms can be planted in garden containers outdoors after danger of frost is passed. Set them six inches apart and four to six inches deep. The best way to use these in container gardening is to planting a few every two to three weeks, giving you a succession of bloom in your container garden. Stake stems before flowers open. After the leaves turn brown, or there is a frost, lift corms, cut off foliage and dust with DDT to control the tiny sucking thrips. After dusting, store corms in a dry place at 45 to 55 degrees F for future planting.

Gloxinias, another Summer-flowering plant and tender with large, tubular blooms of red, pink, lavender, purple, or white, and broad velvety rosettes of leaves. Start tubers indoors and don’t take outside until weather is warm. Since the leaves are easily broken or injured by wind or rain, put plants in a sheltered spot. The low broad eaves of contemporary houses, with restricted sun, offer an appropriate setting for rows of pots or window boxes filled with gay gloxinias.

Now you have some great ideas for your container garden design. It’s time now to start planting your flower bulbs.

Happy Container Gardening!

Copyright © 2006 Mary Hanna All Rights Reserved.

This article may be distributed freely on your website and in your ezines, as long as this entire article, copyright notice, links and the resource box are unchanged.

Geraniums Galore – A Container Garden Delight

Geraniums Galore - A Container Garden Delight
Geraniums Galore – A Container Garden Delight

All over the country, geraniums flaunt their red and scarlet, rose, pink, and white blooms with a gay abandon that few other plants can rival. In boxes on city fire escapes and rooftops, in window boxes on suburban and country houses, in tubs and pots on terraces and patios, and in hanging baskets of the porches of summer cottages, they are beloved and cherished plants

It needs sun to bloom; it tolerates shade, where it is usually handled as a foliage plant. What it resents is too much moisture and a rich diet. Kept too wet, the leaves turn yellow; given a heavy soil, one high in nitrogen plants go to foliage and flower sparingly.

Even if you choose no other plants, you could have a varied potted garden of single and double zonal, fancy-leaved or variegated, scented-leaved, ivy and Lady or Martha Washington geraniums (also called show or fancy geraniums), not to mention a few oddities of cactus and climbing types.

The zonal geranium is characterized by dark circular markings on the rounded green leaves. Double types dominate the trade and are offered by florists in the spring for planting in gardens and window boxes.

Variegated geraniums, with leaves that are often brilliantly colored, are attractive even out of bloom. Set among green-leaved geraniums and other foliage plants, pots of the variegated plants add color and pattern.

The trailing, ivy-leaved geraniums are among the most profuse flowering when grown under favorable conditions. They dislike shade and high humidity and thrive best in climates with warm days and cool nights, as in California.

Lady Washingtonís, considered the handsomest of geraniums, are not so easy to grow. Like the ivy-leaved, they prefer cool nights and warm, sunny days, preferring shelter from wind and all-day sun.

If you are a geranium gardener, you may want to spark your pot plant collection with some cactus and climbing geraniums. They will give you bizarre and fascinating forms and flowers and are certain to arouse comment.

Geraniums flourish and look well in pots, boxes, and planters. They thrive in various soil mixtures if drainage is good. For abundant bloom, however, supply a special preparation, not high in nitrogen, or lush foliage and few blooms will result. I have success with good garden soil and a sprinkling of a 5-10-5 fertilizer and bone meal. During the growing season, plants respond to a low-nitrogen fertilizer in liquid form.

When potting, be generous with drainage material to insure free passage of water. As with any plant, always water with care, since too much or not enough can be harmful. The best rule is to water when the surface of the soil feels dry. Then soak the soil well and do not water again until plants need it. If soil is kept too wet, leaves will turn yellow; if too dry they wilt and discolor.

To maintain even plant growth, turn containers from time to time. Remove yellow leaves and faded blossoms which are especially distracting on plants at doorways or any other key spots. If rain rots and disfigures the center florets of the heads, pull them off with your fingers, leaving the unmarred outer florets and buds.

If you want plants for next spring, take two- to four-inch cuttings in August or early September. Look for mature stems (with leaves spaced close together) that break easily like a snap bean. Woody growth is hard to root and succulent tips tend to rot. Before planting spread out cuttings in a shady place for several hours so leaves will lose excess moisture.

When ready to plant, cut off the lower leaves, allowing but two or three to each cutting. Also pull off the little wings on the stem, since they are inclined to rot. Dip stem ends in hydrated lime to prevent decay and then insert about halfway, in a flat or large pot of pure sand or a mixture of sand and peat moss. With geraniums, rooting powders are hardly necessary. When cuttings develop inch-long roots, they are ready for spacing out in another flat or for separate planting in 2Ω-inch pots. Fill with a mixture of three parts sandy loam and one part peat moss or leaf mold. After planting, keep in the shade for the first few days, and bring indoors before cold weather.

When the separated cuttings have developed strong root systems, shift to 3Ω- or 4-inch pots. Use the same potting mixture as before, with bone meal added. Later as established plants begin to grow, feed periodically with a high phosphorous fertilizer, as 5-10-5 or 4-12-8.

To keep plants bushy and to encourage branching, pinch while small, starting when they are three to four inches high. Provide sunny windows, and keep turning pots to prevent lopsided growth. Water regularly, but allow soil to dry out just a little between applications

Plants may be wintered in cool cellars with little light. Remember only that the less light, the cooler the temperatures should be. This is because too much warmth and insufficient light cause lanky growth that undermines a healthy plant.

Gardeners with cellars or sheds when temperatures remain above freezing, can winter geraniums hanging upside down from the ceiling. The dead-looking sticks, set out in pots or in the garden in warm weather, will astound you when they develop into glorious flowering plants.

Copyright © 2006 Mary Hanna All Rights Reserved.

This article may be distributed freely on your website and in your ezines, as long as this entire article, copyright notice, links and the resource box are unchanged.

How to Plant a Gardening Container Or Gardening Pots In Your Container Garden

How to Plant a Gardening Container Or Gardening Pots In Your Container Garden
How to Plant a Gardening Container Or Gardening Pots In Your Container Garden

When you are ready to mix ingredients for your container garden, be sure the soil is damp and workable. To determine this, take a handful, squeeze it and allow it to drop. If water comes out, it is too wet; if it breaks apart, it is too dry. But if the lump of soil retains its shape or cracks just a little when it is dropped, it is in good condition to work into your gardening pots.

Be certain your garden containers are clean when you start. Soak used or new clay gardening pots overnight so they will not draw moisture from the soil after planting. This is a very important step when you are beginning your plants life. If the pot draws off the moisture the new plant will be deprived. Clean dirty clay pots with a stiff brush and hot, soapy water. Clean gardening pots will be much more attractive in your container garden.

Though redwood, cedar, and cypress gardening pots may be left natural, they may also be stained or painted. First clean the surfaces then apply one or two coats of stain or paint. Let dry completely before planting. Concrete, metal, plastic, fiberglass, and similar materials all need cleaning before planting your container garden.

Suiting plants to garden pots is very important in container garden design. Consider the shape of each container, its color, and texture in relation to the color of flowers and foliage, as well as the ultimate size of each plant in your container garden. Don’t choose material that is too small, and if you want a group of plants for a large container, select one tall specimen for the center to give height and scale. Donít forget that you can plant vegetables in container gardens; try to incorporate them into your container garden design. And, for a tasty addition to your container garden plant herbs in garden containers or even hanging baskets, your recipes will become marvelous.

In low pots or bulb pans and in tubs, use low-growing plants like fancy-leaved caladiums, petunias, verbenas, Iantanas, ageratum and wax begonias. Hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils are also appropriate. In tall containers, plant specimens of geraniums, heliotropes, coleus, balsam, dwarf dahlias, fuchsias, and marguerites. Reserve the larger container pots and boxes for trees and shrubs or roses.

As a gardener, keep in mind the form of plants, particularly the evergreens which stand out boldly in winter. Rounded types, as clipped yews or globe arborvitae, look well in angular containers. Hollies or yews, sheared into squares or pyramids, look better in circular tubs. This contrast of the curving with the straight always gives interest to the garden and those guests that visit your container garden.

The first step in potting for a gardener is to place sufficient drainage material in the bottom of each garden container, allowing the water to pass through freely, but not so much as to interfere with the roots. An inch or two of flower pot pieces (rounded sides up), or chips of brick or flagstone, pebbles, gravel, small stones, or cinders can be used. The larger the container, the larger the pieces should be. Some gardeners spread a piece of coarse burlap and a layer of sand over large drainage pieces. A layer of Vermiculite or sphagnum moss over the drainage material is also fine to keep soil from clogging holes. If the holes clog the roots will drown in their gardening pot.

Above the drainage, spread a layer of soil, the amount depending on the size of the container and the root ball of the plant. Place the plant in position so that the surface of the soil will be an inch (more for big plants) below the rim of the container. This space is needed to hold water.

Fill soil in around the roots, firming gently with your fingers or a piece of wood so as to eliminate air pockets. Add more soil and firm, but do not make the soil too tight for fine feeding roots must be able to penetrate it with ease.

Finally, water your garden container plants well, let them drain. If water passes through the gardening pot very rapidly, press soil again to firm it; that means there are air pockets. If the soil holds water too long, loosen it a little.

Place the container garden in a sheltered spot out of sun and wind for the first week while they make new root growth and adjust to new conditions. This also helps to avoid shock. Once your plants have settled in, you ready to arrange your container garden according to your original container gardening design.

Happy Container Gardening!

Copyright © 2006 Mary Hanna All Rights Reserved.

This article may be distributed freely on your website and in your ezines, as long as this entire article, copyright notice, links and the resource box are unchanged.

Mary Hanna is an aspiring herbalist who lives in Central Florida. This allows her to grow gardens inside and outside year round. She has published other articles on Cruising, Gardening and Cooking. Visit her websites at and or contact her at mary@webmarketingreviews