container gardens
Soil Mixtures and Planting
Suit Plants to Containers

   Consider the shape of each container, its color, and texture in relation to the color of flowers and foliage and the present as well as ultimate size of each plant. Don't choose material that is too small, and if you want a group of plants for a large container, select one tall specimen for the center to give height and scale.

   In low pots or bulb pans and in tubs, use low-growing plants-fancy-leaved caladiums, petunias, verbenas, Ian-tanas, ageratum and wax begonias. Hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils are also appropriate. In tall containers, plant specimens of geraniums, heliotropes, coleus, balsam, dwarf dahlias, fuchsias, and marguerites. Reserve large tubs and boxes for trees and shrubs.

   Keep in mind the form of plants, particularly the evergreens which stand out boldly in winter. Rounded types, as clipped yews or globe arborvitae, look well in angular containers. Hollies or yews, sheared into squares or pyramids, look better in circular tubs. This contrast of the curving with the straight always gives interest.

How to Pot

   The first step in potting is to place sufficient drainage material in the bottom of each container so that water can pass through freely. An inch or two of flower pot pieces (rounded sides up), or chips of brick or flagstone, pebbles, gravel, small stones, or cinders can be used. The larger the container, the larger the pieces should be. Some gardeners spread a piece of coarse burlap and a layer of sand over large drainage pieces. A layer of Vermiculite or sphagnum moss over the drainage material is also fine to keep soil from clogging holes.

   Above the drainage, spread a layer of soil, the amount depending on the size of the container and the root ball of the plant. Place the plant in position so that the surface of the soil will be an inch (more for big plants) below the rim of the container. This space is needed to hold water.

   Fill soil in around the roots, firming gently with your fingers or a piece of wood so as to eliminate air pockets. Add more soil and firm, but do not make the soil too tight for fine feeding roots must be able to penetrate it with ease.

   Finally, water plants well, let them drain. If water passes through the pot very rapidly, press soil again to firm it. If the soil holds water too long, loosen it a little.

   Place container plants in a sheltered spot out of sun and wind for the first week or so while they make new root growth and adjust to new conditions.