The calendar may say autumn, but my thermometer still thinks it’s summer. I love it. But despite my willingness to live in denial, my containers are moving past peak and I know it won’t be long before I have to start the routine of dumping and cleaning. Sigh.
Do containers have a place in low maintenance gardens? Probably not. But we love having a few pots close to the house and entry, don’t we? I’ve always gone a bit overboard with them. This becomes a real problem if, like me, you hate to drag hoses around, Yes, I confess, I’ve allowed more than one container to turn crispy. For me, watering is the chore from hell.
Even so, I can’t quite give them up entirely. Some plants just look better in pots. Geraniums. Petunias. Tomatoes. Since abstinence is not an option, I’ve had to look for ways to keep this vice under control. It is possible to garden in containers and still keep things manageable. Here’s what helped me. Anything to add?
❦ Make sure your pots are the right size for your plants. A root ball that fills up the pot will never get enough water. A root ball that is too small for the pot will be sitting in wet soil, with its roots slowly rotting. A top heavy plant in a narrow pot will forever be falling over.
❦ Dark containers heat up and dry out quickly. Fine for shade… not so good on the driveway.
❦ Mulching containers is worth it.
❦ Slow release fertilizers in containers are worth it.
❦ Cluster containers together, for watering ease. You know you won’t make the effort to regularly water an out of the way pot.
❦ Consider putting containers in the shade (with ferns, impatiens, Rex begonia, fuchsia, Hakonechloa… They won’t dry out as quickly and don’t need deadheading.
❦ Plants with thicker leaves, like Hosta, succulents, and evergreens, need less water, bless their hearts.
❦ Containers are a good place to try out native plants. You can see if they are adapted to your area, without them becoming aggressive.
❦ Plants that tend to take over in the garden, like ivy…. Will thrive in containers with little care and no chance of running wild.
I can’t claim I always follow my own rules. I wish I did. But hey, minimalist doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun.