Planters are the jewels that can make your garden sparkle. You can move them around, highlight special spots or make a feature of them – and so much more. Spending a little time and thought on them can bring your garden alive all year round without too much effort.
Planning Your Planter
Whilst planters can be moved around the garden it is wise to have some idea where it is going to be positioned in the main so you can choose plants and a container that will fit the conditions – shade loving plants in full sun are not going to do well.
Things to consider are:-
- Sunlight – how much/little will the planter be exposed to
- Water – will rain be sufficient or will you need to water it
- Space – how large is the planter and how much space will it need for you to look after it properly
- Annuals or Perennials – Do you want something that will go for some years, new plants every year of a mix of both
- Position – will you have to move it, how heavy will it be
- Growing Medium – this will largely be driven by the plants you select
Choosing Your Planter
There are very few things that you can’t use to put plants in – even an old carrier bag at a pinch, but a beautiful planter is the foundation for a feature piece in your garden. Size should probably be the first consideration – will it fit and look good when planted in the spot you have in mind?
The material your planter is made of should also be an early consideration. If you are going to move it around a lot then you really don’t want heavy stone, but if it is to be semi-permanent or in a spot where stability is important then you need something with some substance.
The colour and shape need to fit in with the surroundings, though don’t forget a generous coating of yoghurt will encourage the growth of lichens on the pot giving it a more aged and subtle finish if it looks a little new and stark.
There are lots to choose from so don’t rush your choice as the Planter is the foundation of your creation.
Choosing Your Plants
There is an almost infinite variety of plants available so it can be difficult to choose. A good starting point might be to select a theme, be it colour, shape, texture or something completely different. It’s important to bear in mind that whilst plants in their 10cm or 15 cm pots look a little lost in the planter at the start, they will soon grow and fill out. Whilst you want your planters to look full and lush, overcrowding will cause plants to suffer and they won’t look their best.
A focal point is often a good idea – a plant with a striking outline or leaf structure that you build planter around. Don’t forget you could also use other materials to provide a focus – seed heads, twisted willow, an ornament (make sure it’s weatherproof!) or an interesting branch, it doesn’t have to be a plant.
Lighter colours tend to look better at the front, giving depth if the shades work back to darker colours, either foliage or flowers. Plants that spill over also add structure and interest, they also help the planter blend into the background and create a complete picture. Another trick that adds interest is to have an accent plant that maybe doesn’t quite fit with the overall planting but draws the eye and adds interest. Be a bit adventurous – how about Swiss Chard in your pot – you can eat it and it provides a lovely background. Artichokes, with their striking foliage, look wonderful and herbs can provide lovely foliage, aromas and be used in the kitchen.
Don’t neglect textures in your planning – lovely spiky ferns, soft grasses, succulents with their glorious shapes, big blooms or light, lacy blossom that seems to dance in the air.
Some good combinations are:-
- Red Swiss Chard, Helleborus ‘Sunmarble’, Heuchera, FernRed Swiss Chard, Helleborus ‘Sunmarble’, Heuchera, Fern
- Mexican Feather Grass, Orange Gazania, Dichondra repens, Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’
- Banana, Colues, Hibiscus, Asparagus Fern, Dichondra ‘Silver Falls’, White Verbena, Purple Petunia
- Durango Dahlia, Great Balls of Fire White Ivy Leaf Geranium, Yellow Petunia, Bidens ferulifolia ‘Bidy Gonzales’
Caring For Your Planter
Watch out for pests, they can decimate your planters. Swift action is always called for! Keep watering, some gel in the planting medium will help the planter stay moist. Dead heading and keeping the planter clean and tidy will prolong it’s life and keep it looking lovely all summer long