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Easy and Gorgeous

Easy and Gorgeous

By Pamela Crawford, Author, Instant Container Gardens
Photographs by Pamela Crawford

It’s a good idea to start simple when your are planting your first few instant containers. This basket is a great inspiration for beginners because it is not only very easy to plant but also gorgeous after it is done. You can’t get much better than that!

Dragon wing begonias are one of my favorite container plants. They are difficult to find in 4” pots because they don’t look too good when they are so small. However, if you see any, I highly recommend trying them. They are showier than the more-common wax begonias, and unusual as well.

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If you can’t find them and like this look, substitute wax begonias. They are almost always available in red.

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The Plants

Dragon Wing Begonia: 15 plants from 4.5” pots

‘Mardi Gras’ Coleus: 15 plants from 4.5” pots

Mammey Croton: 1 plant from a 3-gallon pot

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Light: Light shade is ideal.

Season: Spring through fall for most warmer areas. This plant mix takes temperatures from about 38 degrees to the low-90’s. In a bit more shade, it withstands temperatures into the mid-90’s. 

Lifespan: Three to five months in this container.

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Care: Fertilize on planting day with a slow-release mix. Repeat if the leaves look yellowish or washed-out. Pinch the coleus and the begonias to keep them from getting taller than the croton centerpiece. Since the centerpiece is so short, you’ll need to pinch at least once a month.

Water: Water when the plants show signs of wilt or the soil feels dry when you push your fingertip into the potting mix­ – up to your second knuckle. I watered this one every day (after it was about a month old) in midsummer and every other day in cooler weather.

Troubleshooting: No problems. This was a wonderful, trouble-free basket.

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Sixteen-inch Double Tier Imperial Hanging Planter, available at

Planting Plan: Easy. Alternate the begonias and coleus on both side layers as well as along the edge layers. Plant the mammey croton in the center.

This is an excerpt from Pamela Crawford’s book, Instant Container Gardens, available through Amazon and other online booksellers.

Pamela Crawford, author of 12 gardening books, is considered one of the most accomplished container gardening experts in the country. In addition to designing gardens for over 1500 residences, her work has been featured on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens publications as well as in Southern Living, HGTV Magazine, Fine Gardening, Country Gardens, and in over 300 newspapers. As an expert in her field, she has appeared on the Fine Living Network, GardenSMART, and numerous local tv shows.

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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Photos and story by Monrovia Nursery Company

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