A planter is only as pretty as what’s growing in it. Follow our planting tips to make sure your containers are up to snuff all season.
THE RIGHT MIX Regular garden soil is too dense for containers and may contain disease or pest organisms. A good potting mix—one that’s well-aerated, welldrained, and packed with nutrients—is essential for healthy plants. To make your own, mix 8 quarts potting soil with vermiculite or perlite, 1 quart coarse sand, and 4 quarts sphagnum peat moss or composted manure. Then sprinkle a slow-release plant food before planting.
GO FAUX When planting super-deep tubs or containers, save on soil. Fill the bottom third with plastic bottles or packing peanuts before topping with your potting mix. You’ll spend less and your pots will be lighter to move as needed. THRILLER, FILLER, SPILLER Plant options can feel overwhelming, but this basic rule of thumb can save you time wandering the nursery aisles. Start with a thriller, an attention-grabbing bloomer with a strong upright growth habit, placed in the center. Surround it with fillers, plants with a rounded shape that disguise the thriller’s base and add texture or complementary color. Finish with a spiller, one with a sprawling habit that trails over the container’s edge and has a leaf or flower shape that contrasts the others. All should have similar water and sun requirements. PROVIDE TLC While it seems like common sense, be sure to keep up on the routine maintenance. When watering, drench the soil and avoid saturating the foliage. (A drip irrigation system, found at garden stores, is a great solution if you’ll be gone for prolonged periods.) Remove spent flowers frequently to keep them blooming for weeks.