Eric and Hayley next show us how quick and easy the process is building a beautiful container. Hayley starts by checking to make sure the container has a drainage hole. This can be the most important part of this process. Then she adds a filter fabric to the bottom, to make sure the hole doesn't get clogged, she then adds 3 to 4 inches of gravel, then wraps the gravel with the filter fabric so none of the rocks escape and clog the hole. Next she adds the potting medium. It's a nice potting mix that has a fertilizer incorporated, it will give the plants a great head start. She doesn't want the soil level too low, but not too high either. Once we water the container in we don't want anything to spill out. Next we need to think where we'll view this container from. Are we going to look at it as a center piece that people will be walking around or will it be against the wall? Let's say this container will be against a wall. If going against a wall she will put the accent plant in the back of the pot, there would be no need to put it in the center of the container. With this method there is no need to place plant material at the back of the container. The canna lily will be the vertical element or accent plant. It will be the attention grabbing plant and has a bright yellow color. It is a tropical canna and only gets about 3 or 4 feet tall. Next she adds coleus, a carnival coleus. It has a lacy feel and she places it in the back of the pot. She adds 2. One doesn't always need to have even numbers but this container will have a symmetrical look thus she doesn't want need a 3rd plant. The next plant, after the lacy, will have a spiky look so she goes with a blue salvia, velocity blue salvia. It's a nice plant, heat tolerant and thrives, especially, in August when it will really pick up. Next added are dragon wing begonias which are great plants because they bloom late in the season. Eric notices some other plants that Hayley has ready for use. In particular the Sun Parasol, a relatively new introduction, great as a vertical accent piece. Some may think it's a tropical and in the past they've been a somewhat rangy plant but this Sun Parasol is a great climber, it's super dense, it has more flowers than other Mandevillas and has a really rare, deep crimson red color. Another new plant that Eric loves using in containers is Senetti Pericallis. There are probably 5 or 6 different shades of blues and purples. It's one of the most powerful bloomers in a container. It's basically an annual, works well in the cooler transition periods, doesn't like hotter temperatures, in fact it actually stops blooming if it's too hot. But for the spring and fall Eric thinks it's one of the most impactful plants to use in a container. One should be able to find it in your garden center. They next address the trailing plant, here they are going to use petunias. Petunias are great for pots. Hayley doesn't so much like them for beds but likes them in pots, she's a big fan. Then she adds a yellow, a lantana. Lantana is a nice hanging plant, it picks up the yellow from the canna too. The coleus will have a nice chartreuse color once it matures. Sweet potato vine is a great plant, it can grow a little bit out of control, thus needs to be controlled and trimmed during the season although some like for it to grow out of control. But remember you can always add more plants.
Eric is ready to get his hands dirty and they start planting. They break up the root systems a little, especially on the larger plants because they don't want circling roots plus roots tend to integrate better with the potting media by breaking them up just a little. Plant the plants even with the soil. Don't bury them too deep. Root systems of plants like to live, for the most part, in the top 2 inches of the soil so if one buries them too deep you're creating problems before you get started. The final, yet very important step is making sure everything is watered in very well. As we were planting air pockets were being created, they are not good for the the root system. So make sure everything is watered in very well, this will help the roots integrate into the potting media. While watering they also use a liquid feed so the plants definitely get a really nice jump start. Hayley adds a nice finishing touch, she adds pine bark on top of the soil. It not only is decorative but keeps moisture in.
By Justin Hancock, Monrovia Horticultural Craftsman
Photographs courtesy of Monrovia
Labor Day may represent summer’s unofficial close but now is a perfect opportunity to add late-summer perennials that will continue to beautify your landcare until fall arrives. click here for an article that identifies 9 perennials for late summer.
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