Don’t box yourself in – go for a container garden

Don’t box yourself in – go for a container garden

Don’t box yourself in – go for a container garden
The concrete planter can withstand bad weather conditions such as rain and storms without corroding.

Nicole Hackett, Garden GirlCLAYTON, CA (April 22, 2023) — Container gardening is an expressive way to enhance your yard or garden landscape.

The freedom to choose your vessel and your plants while controlling the composition of the soil is quite a luxury for the home gardener. Container gardening takes little time and effort with bountiful rewards.

With so many pots, urns and baskets available, some made of concrete or wood, others terra-cotta, plastic or glazed ceramic pottery, where does one begin? The choice is yours.

Plastic containers are reasonably priced, but the sun dries them out so the plastic will eventually become brittle. Terra-cotta containers last several years, then eventually crack or start to decompose. Wooden planters have the same problems. The cost makes them appealing, but as with a fence, they will rot and fall apart.

Concrete pots last many years. Their weight makes them difficult to manipulate, but they are great for high wind areas or front yard plantings. Glazed ceramic pottery has its pros and cons, depending on the thickness of the clay and the glaze. The color of the glaze makes them very desirable because they are decorative even without plants.

You need to use potting soil in pots because it’s finer and will hold moisture longer. If you are planting citrus or vegetables in a container, mix potting soil with a rich soil conditioner to satisfy your plants’ needs. Using potting soil with a built-in fertilizer is up to you. Some gardeners enjoy the freedom to add what they need when they need it; others may like that the feeding is done for them.

Different care

Just keep in mind that different plants need different care – not everything likes phosphorus, and most plants’ nitrogen needs vary. So ask questions about your plants as you install.

Containers should be treated like above-ground gardens; you shouldn’t see any bare dirt. Some plants should be highlighted in their own container, while others need to be grouped with friends to prolong the blooming time.

Single plantings are sometimes formal and used to frame an entry way or add focal height. Green Beauty Boxwood is an excellent evergreen. This small-leafed plant can reach 4-6 feet tall and is great shaped into a cone, spiral or sphere. Camellias also make successful single plantings, as well as gardenias.

Fruitless olives left to their natural shape or pruned to shape are excellent full-sun, hardy container suggestions. Hybrid tea roses and Lomandra grasses are both successful container installations.

Combination container plantings are my favorite. Layering small, medium and tall plants within the same container extends interest. The larger the container, the greater the above-ground garden. Great talls to consider are Kangaroo Paws, Canna lilies, Salvia Indigo Spires, Agastache and roses. Add medium height to a tall container plant by using a contrasting flower color.

Angelonia, commonly called summer snapdragons, have orchid-resembling flowers that last all summer. Alstroemeria Colorita Series is a group of 12-inch tall Peruvian lilies that wow a container in bright pinks, purples, oranges and yellows.

Nemesia is a familiar family of short-lived color. New shades on the scene are the Sunsation series and the Angel heart collection. These are winners to enjoy.

Medium-sized considerations may call for foliage rather than flower. Fancy leaf geraniums come in variations with colors that lend themselves to many companions. Heuchera and coleus both have splendid leaves that add tons of interest.

The trailing plants in a combination container get all the praise. Super Cal and Wave Petunias have dramatic blooms with a bounty of flowers throughout the growing season. Verbena is fabulous in larger pots for a different trailing look. Ipomea vines are super fun in a container or hanging basket – look for lime, bronze or tri-color leaves. Bacopa has tiny white flowers in constant bloom.

Spin pots occasionally to even out the amount of sun. Water regularly, fertilize monthly and enjoy.

Contact Nicole with ­questions or comments by email at

Nicole Hackett
Nicole Hackett

Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden. You can contact her with ­questions or comments by email at