There are many great containers that are useful for container gardening. Plastic being the fastest to manufacture, the cheapest to purchase, many colours available to suit everyone's tastes and easiest to handle makes it the most popular choice.
The second most commonly used is clay and they have been around for many years. The disadvantages with clay are they are breakable and chip easily, are porous and need watering more often, are more expensive and it is often difficult to find the very large sizes.
Other containers such as wood, cement, metal or any recycled container able to hold plants in are also found in gardens. Wood deteriates with the moisture of the plants and soil, and therefore isn't seen very often. Cement and metal being the least commonly seen as they are expensive and very heavy to move.
Many imaginitive people reuse discarded items and create very unique planters; rubber boots, old washtubs, antique china pitchers, sap pails, metal feed pails and various others. Therefore the only limitation is your imagination!
Now for the plants that are in these containers. Usually seen is the traditional spike in the center with either impatiens or geraniums, marigolds, petunias and lobelia surrounding it. But think of other possibilities; huge pots of mixed Coleus planted strickly for their colourful leaves for a shady spot, alpine plants planted in a long and flat planter with a scree mulch, or a potted Hosta making a statement being all on its own. Also think formally with a pair of potted dwarf evergreens, or simply with various creeping Sedum and Hens & Chicks for a table in a hot and dry area.
Also think differently in the way containers are displayed. A single planter in a corner can get lost, but if you were to group containers in odd numbers with taller ones at the back and shorter ones in the front, it can create a dramatic effect. By doing a large grouping it makes the area seem like a permanent flowerbed, and yet the flexibility is there should you need to move them to a different location.
I like to have many pots at my disposal because as my perennial beds change, so too do the intensity of colours. As I notice one section of my flowerbeds starting to fade, I pop in one of my portable pots overflowing with annuals. Then as this area becomes alive with colour again, I move the pot to another fading location.
As with all plants, container held plants need the necessary fertilizers and water as well. As they are in containers it is necessary to do it more often because the soil will dry out much faster and they tend to work harder. I use the water soluable, all-purpose 20-20-20 every two weeks for my container plants, as I find this is the most well-rounded fertilizer for their needs. For potted evergreens or more acid-loving plants a more acidic fertilizer should be used.
Over-wintering containers for the freezing weather isn't difficult. Hostas should be planted in the soil and mulched lightly to help it through the freeze and thaw cycles. Once spring has arrived, it can be replanted in its pot.
Any alpine plants or Hens & Chicks can be held in a cool and dark spot in a cellar, a garage or a greenhouse that doesn't go below freezing in their original containers.
Annuals can be removed and composted with their plastic pots being stacked in a pile upside down. If left right-side up and water accumilates, the containers can crack once the water freezes. Clay and cement pots should be brought into a garage to protect them from the moisture that will crack them.
Once spring arrives for another year, everything can be brought back out to their new locations, or filled to the brim with more usually seen or unusual plants.
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Email: Jennifer Moore