In spite of this cool and rainy day, I can see myself sitting in the sun on my deck and beside me is a beautiful planter full of lovely flowers! Oh yes, a vivid imagination can get us through a lot of dreary days! And, in the real world, making or purchasing a lovely container to enjoy all summer is fun, creative and a satisfying venture. So, how to start? Well, first the container:
Anything from a high-end ceramic pot to a re-cycled metal bucket to a burlap wrapped cracked plastic pot can suffice. Use your imagination: spray paint an old bucket, re-cycle pallets, old dresser drawers – the sky’s the limit. Check out this link for inspiration.
Potting mix: be sure to use a lighter container soil – do not use garden or top soil – it will be too heavy and compacted for the plants. And yes, you can buy soil on sale at lots of box stores for a buck a bag but I caution you about that type of product. Sometimes good, but lots of times, bad. I have a commercial account who went that route two years ago and the results were disastrous; I advised them very strongly to invest in good soil and their results were perfect. For the sake of a few dollars, don’t cheap out on poor soil. To help with water retention, you can put a disposable diaper in the bottom part of the container – it really works!
Plants: Depending on where you are putting the container will help you decide on what plants to use: hot sun by the pool, cool shade on the deck, half ‘n half by the entrance door or wherever you place this. Then of course you will consider the colors that you like – wild mix, monochromatic, complementing colors – again there is no “right or wrong” just pick what you like. When people come into The Bayside, I encourage them to take a look at our planters and see if they are inspired by our combinations. One thing to keep in mind is do not crowd in the plants! It is a common mistake to put too many plants in the container at the beginning. I know they can look a bit small, but give them room to grow and the overall result will be much more successful. In the biz, there is a guideline about “thrillers, spillers and fillers” – good general rule, but keep in mind that rules can be broken. In the end, do what appeals to you. Here is a good link about the thriller, spiller, and filler: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/containers/thriller-filler-spiller.htm
Fertilizing: When you make a container, you can put a slow release fertilizer into the mix (at the suggested rate for the specific product). We do this with all the containers that we make here to ensure that these plants have adequate food. If you don’t do this, you can just do a regular fertilizing. We suggest to you a product that promotes blooms (that is if you choose to use flowers in your container – some people only use foliage). Whatever you put in your container, be sure to feed it regularly.
Watering: Depending on where you have it (hot sun, windy, protected, etc.) will have a great influence on the watering needs. Get familiar with the weight of your container and give it water “as needed” – that means letting it dry down well (NOT to wilt stage, tho’!) and then water well. You cannot depend on the rain as a source of watering because sometimes, the water will just shed off the foliage.
Have fun with this! Come on down to The Bayside and we will help and encourage you on the road to creating (or purchasing) the perfect container so that you will be able to “live the dream” that we are all sharing: warm summer days and nights and sitting on the deck surrounded by lovely flowers.
As a special feature, we’d like to introduce our staff picks for 2018. Today’s staff picks feature Annual favorites:
Aleza: Lantana Evita Orange: I love this annual plant because the colour is so bright and cheery! It stands up to the heat and full sun with low watering. In warmer climates, lantana can grow to a 3-foot shrub, but in Cape Breton, we enjoy it from spring to early fall.
Amanda: Scaevola ‘Pink Cloud’: this plant caught my eye when I saw it in one of our hanging baskets this year. Planted with other plants, it has a billowing leggy growth pattern that weaves itself between other plants. It creates a look that is totally unique and pretty with its little pink flowers. This stunner can tolerate the heat and low watering as it originates from the Australian outback.
Diana: Purslane ‘Pazzazz’: this is a robust ground cover with thick, waxy looking leaves. Its bright yellow and hot pink little flowers have a fluorescent look to them. Happy in full sun and low watering, it looks and acts like a succulent. Purslane can spread quite a bit and have a trailing effect in containers.
Marianne: Begonia, aka “Queen of the Garden.” These classy and colourful beauties are the ultimate low-maintenance plant! Begonias like very little water; in fact, they like to go completely dry before a thorough watering. They can have a rose-like flower or a more pendulous hanging flower – either way, absolutely stunning!