Flowers in Containers

Flowering baskets and tubs are becoming increasingly popular for decks, porches, and patios. I prefer larger containers such as minimum 10 inch hanging baskets and 12 inch pots and tubs. They do not dry out as quickly as smaller containers. Make sure planting containers have large holes for drainage.

The best potting soils allow water to move into the soil quickly and have peat moss or other materials which hold moisture. I like to add water holding crystals such as “Soil Moist” to help retain extra moisture. Most nurseries and garden stores have a special section of potted flowers especially selected for containers. Many have trailing or spreading growth. Non-flowering plants with colorful leaves are often mixed in. A single upright plant is often added to the center of large tubs and pots to give some height.

If containers are going to be placed under overhangs or other shady areas, choose shade tolerant varieties. Fuchsia, impatiens, begonia, coleus, pansy, viola, lamium, browallia, lobelia, nierembergia, and variegated ivies grow well in the shade.

For sunny areas, some of the most popular flowers include diascia, petunia, ivy geranium, lobelia, pansy, bacopa, calibrachoa (million bells), alyssum, trailing snapdragon, trailing verbena, lotus, and sweet potato vine. Some good upright plants are salvia, dracaena spikes, snapdragon, and ornamental grasses.

Some of the best plants for single variety containers are ivy geraniums, impatiens, hanging basket begonias, fuchsias, bacopa, calibrachoa (million bells), and trailing petunias.

Most of my tubs are mixed plantings. I like to plant at least 2 or 3 plants of each kind per container. I place like plants across from each other or at equal intervals around the container. I place plants so that their soil balls are almost touching each other to get a more immediate effect.

My favorite fertilizer for containers is “Osmocote” or similar coated, time release fertilizers. I mix fertilizer into the top inch or two of soil. Organic fertilizers are also slow release. You may need to make a second application in mid-summer. If you use liquid fertilizer, apply some every week.

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