Gardening | Container gardens yield not only colorful flowers but veggies, too – The Columbus Dispatch

gardening-|-container-gardens-yield-not-only-colorful-flowers-but-veggies,-too-–-the-columbus-dispatch

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This is the time in the growing season when the bedding plants are in the ground, the petunia baskets are hanging on the front porch, the vegetable garden has been planted, and the enthusiastic gardener is scouring locations in the home landscape to add even more plants. There are always more plants to buy and more seeds to sow. If you haven’t yet incorporated container plantings into your landscape, it’s time to consider doing so.Container gardens can be added to many outdoor spaces, including decks and patios or even incorporated into in-ground beds and landscape plantings. And containers add instant curb appeal to any home when placed next to the front door, on entrance steps or even at the mailbox. For gardeners with little space, containers offer the perfect solution for adding flowers, tropical plants or even vegetables to small outdoor spaces such as balconies or courtyards.Unlimited optionsGone are the days when the terra-cotta flowerpot was the only container choice for gardeners. Gardeners will now find containers in many different colors and styles, made of everything from plastic, wood, metal, glass and even fabric. Glazed ceramic or clay pots are available in many different colors, patterns and styles and are popular choices for gardeners who wish to coordinate container colors with their home’s exterior or the theme of their garden.Whimsical container choices such as a worn work boot filled with small succulents or a rusty old wheelbarrow overflowing with colorful wave petunias will add personality to any outdoor living space or garden.When choosing a container for any type of plant, be sure that the container has drainage holes. Depending upon the type of material a container is made of, drainage holes can be added to containers lacking them with a drill or even a nail or punch awl. Attempting to address the lack of drainage holes by adding a layer of stone or gravel in the bottom of the pot simply will not be adequate.Simple design ruleWhen choosing plants to incorporate into containers, a simple design rule to follow is to consider using a variety of plants including thrillers, fillers and spillers. Thrillers are the larger vertical plants such as canas, elephant ears, or caladiums. Fillers tend to be plants with horizontal or weaving growth patterns such as petunias, impatiens or ageratum.And spillers are cascading plants that spill out over the edge of the container, such as creeping Jenny and sweet-potato vine.Mixing flowering annuals with tropical houseplants or even vegetable plants in the same container will add visual appeal to any container.Proper growing media criticalThe best planting media for containers of any size is a soilless potting mix designed specifically for containers. These mixes contain organic material such as sphagnum peat moss, shredded bark and mineral ingredients such as vermiculite, perlite, clay and sand. Avoid the temptation to fill your containers with native clay soil from the garden, as it is too heavy, drains poorly, and compacts easily. Soil-less mixes have the proper structure to provide pore space for air, drain properly to prevent waterlogging, and allow for healthier root development.Change plants with seasonsFor variety, consider swapping out plants in your container as the seasons change. The same container can provide late-winter color with pansies, and a variety of annual flowering plants throughout summer. In autumn, the annuals can be replaced with cool-season plants such as flowering kale, asters and hardy mums.Adding container gardens to your home’s landscape can be a creative and fun way to expand your gardening footprint.Mike Hogan is an associate professor at Ohio State University and an educator at the OSU [email protected]
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