Container Gardening: A Guide to Growing Beautiful Flowers in Pots

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Video how to plant a flower in a pot

Do you dream of having a vibrant backyard filled with gorgeous plants, but lack the confidence in your gardening abilities? Look no further! Growing flowers in containers provides a rewarding way to enhance your porch or yard. It’s the perfect introduction to gardening for beginners. Get ready to dive into the world of container gardening and discover how you can create stunning displays with flowers in pots.

Shopping Essentials

To embark on your container gardening journey, gather the following supplies:

  • Flowerpot with drainage holes: These come in various materials, so choose one that matches your style and is manageable in size. Remember, once filled with soil and water, it can become quite heavy. Ensure that water can freely drain from the pot to prevent your plants from drowning. If you prefer a decorative planter without drainage holes, plant your flowers in an inexpensive pot that does drain and place it within the decorative planter, on top of a layer of gravel.
  • Potting mix for containers: Opt for lightweight potting mix that is nutrient-rich. Some mixes even include fertilizer, making them ideal for your potted plants. Avoid using soil from your yard, as it tends to be too heavy.
  • A screen, pottery shard, or coffee filter: If your drainage holes are over 1/2 inch in diameter, use one of these materials to cover them. This will prevent the soil from washing away.
  • All-purpose plant food (optional): You may choose to use plant food to boost the growth and vitality of your plants.
  • Flowering plants: The stars of your container garden!
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Choosing the Perfect Flowers

The garden center’s “annual” or “bedding plants” section is where you’ll find the best flowers for your pots. While they only live for one summer, these plants will bloom throughout the entire season. In contrast, other types of flowering plants, such as perennials, bulbs, and shrubs, may have gorgeous blooms now but will fade away within a few weeks. When selecting your flowers, read the labels and ensure that your chosen location provides the right amount of light and temperature conditions for the plants to thrive.

Here are some popular container plants to consider:

  • African daisies
  • Angelonia
  • Begonias
  • Ferns
  • Geraniums
  • Gerbera daisies
  • Herbs
  • Impatiens
  • Ivy
  • Marigolds
  • Perennials (ivy, coreopsis, or grasses)
  • Petunias
  • Portulaca
  • Sweet potato vine
  • Verbena
  • Vinca
  • Zinnias

Creative Container Designs

Now that you have your plants, it’s time to explore various container design ideas. Here are a few options to consider:

Single Accent

Create a stunning display by filling a container with the same type of flower. This results in a burst of solid color that catches the eye. For example, a pot filled with vibrant red geraniums is always a cheerful choice for a sunny spot, while pink impatiens can brighten up a shady porch. Trailing petunias from a hanging basket add a touch of elegance. Alternatively, choosing one large plant, such as a Boston fern or tropical hibiscus, can create a more formal and sophisticated look. Many larger plants are already pre-planted and ready to be enjoyed.

Multicolor Marvels

Add more visual interest by planting several different varieties and colors of the same flower in a single pot. This allows for a greater range of colors while maintaining a cohesive shape and texture. Some plants, like zinnias, portulaca, impatiens, and petunias, come packaged as a “mix,” offering different colors in one tray. Ensure you can identify the colors to distribute them evenly throughout the container.

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Mix and Match

If you’re feeling adventurous, try creating a mixed container. A well-designed mixed container incorporates plants of varying heights and colors. For beginners, a fail-proof formula is to include tall plants for height, bushy plants for width, and trailing plants that elegantly spill over the pot’s edges. Most annual flowers can be planted together in the same container, so let your creativity shine! Choose complementary colors and textures that appeal to you.

Plant Selection and Arrangement

To ensure a visually appealing container garden, it’s crucial to plan the placement of your flowers. Here’s how to get started:

  • Cover the drainage holes (if necessary) to prevent soil erosion, then fill the pot about two-thirds full with potting mix.
  • Next, position the plants in the container and experiment with different arrangements. You can opt for a round design, placing the tallest plants in the center and surrounding them with shorter or trailing plants. Alternatively, consider a front-facing design, where taller plants reside at the back, and shorter ones adorn the front.
  • Gently remove your plants from their store-bought pots. If a plant is stuck, gently squeeze the pot to loosen it instead of pulling on the stem. Minimize disturbing the roots, but if they are tightly packed, you can gently loosen them with your fingers. Plant each flower at the same depth it was in its original pot.
  • Fill the spaces between the plants with additional potting mix, gently firming it with your fingers. Be careful not to press too hard and risk damaging the plants.
  • Ensure that all plants are at the same level, with no roots exposed.
  • Move your container to its chosen location and thoroughly water the plants until the excess water drains out.
  • Step back and admire your beautiful handiwork!
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A single large tropical hibiscus makes a dramatic container plant.

Caring for Your Container Garden

Now that your container garden is thriving, it’s important to provide the proper care. Here are some key tips:

  • Water your container every two to three days, or more frequently during hot summer months.
  • If desired, use an all-purpose or bloom-boosting plant food according to the package instructions, applying it every couple of weeks.
  • Regularly remove spent blooms to encourage more blooming, a practice known as deadheading. Instead of simply pulling off the dead petals, pinch off the stem beneath the flower.
  • If your plants appear leggy or sparse, pinching off the tips of the stems can stimulate branching and result in fuller growth.

Don’t forget to share your experiences and tips about container gardening in the comments below!

Further Reading

Expand your knowledge and explore related gardening topics:

Remember, container gardening is a delightful way to bring life and color to your outdoor spaces. With a little creativity, careful plant selection, and proper care, your potted flowers will flourish and bring joy to your home. Explore the endless possibilities and let your green thumb shine! For more gardening essentials, visit the Ames Farm Center.