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.

Do It Yourself - - Make It - Need a lit­tle help pick­ing the per­fect combo? Try th­ese no-fail plant recipes for your planters:­tain­erIdeas

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.

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