You’ve already heard about the container rule of thumb– ‘thriller, spiller, and filler’ yes?
I just read a Canadian gardening magazine how-to-create-your-own container article. I was a wee bit gobsmacked at the amount of plants needed for these arrangements. Why?
Because if you put nine baby plants in a 12-inch hanging basket or container, by July’s end there’s not enough soil to sustain them anymore, regardless of how much fertilizer you add in.
Make your containers live on
Moving on. Let’s look at those stunning yet pricey garden centre arrangements. Gorgeous in May, yes? Dead by August.
We live in a regrettably short summer season, agreed. But have we lost all patience with Mother Nature? Must everything we purchase be forced in a faraway greenhouse to perform two months earlier?
Nay, say I.
Plant Perennials in Containers
Nurturing more than 50 container plantings a year (yes, really), this is my secret.
I simply let Mother Nature do her work for me. In containers left out all winter long. Year after year. All I have to do is amend the soil, and prune hard in the spring if it’s a mature plant or tree form. Add some annuals, if there’s room, and do you ever have a ‘wow’.
A wonderful bit about perennials in your containers is that they can either be part of the overall planting scheme, such as a tall grass, or they can be the focal point all on their own.
I absolutely love having just one perennial plant per planter. This gives your creativity free reign, designing container style with individual plant type. Then by moving around your containers, you can perfect your own ‘look’. Which you can change easily spring to summer to fall.
You could also plant one spectacular perennial that shows off every year, especially when it’s a wild child that you can’t let loose in your garden.
As any designer would, I suggest groupings of three containers. Your ‘thriller’ can be a perennial in one pot, your ‘filler’ (can also be a perennial) in a second lower pot, and finally, your ‘spiller’ in the third pot. (Explore the garden centres and choose an everblooming annual as your ‘spiller’.) What this achieves is that each plant has the ability to reach its fullest potential, instead of being crowded out and hanging near death in August.
Think ahead to autumn containers.
What can you plant now that will be spectacular in the fall, and yet still lovely in the meantime? Some favourite annuals: ornamental cabbage or kale. Dusty miller (yes common, but oh boy, spectacular in the fall). Perennial faves? Any kind of Asters. Or Coreopsis. Or Coneflower. Grasses always showoff in the autumn.
Choose your perennial container plants carefully and enjoy literally years of pleasure, spring to fall, I promise.