This week we visit a home on a lake, build on a steep slope.
The owner is an avid gardener and uses containers in a wide
variety of situations such as Butterfly containers, Hummingbird
containers and Deer resistant containers. We'll learn how
to choose plants that evoke specific emotions and explore
container do's and don'ts as well as build a pond-in-a-pot.
Our guest gardener has enjoyed gardening all of her life,
in her early
years house plants were her specialty. She moved to this
about three years ago. Since it was a new home, she was
landscape it herself. It has offered challenges because
it is on a
steep slope and the soil isn't good. She says she has learned
deal from watching Garden Smart.
Because of the growing conditions she has utilized containers
extensively. The first purpose of a container is to look
good, to draw
attention to an area. Our gardener likes butterflies, thus
butterfly container. Agapanthis is a good choice for this
will grow tall, has an upright, vertical presence and is
plant. Budleah, Petite Indigo could grow to about 5 feet
it's in a container will stay fairly small. Navaho Rose,
also a good choice. It adds color and blooms continuously
season. To maximize butterfly traffic move the container
prominent place, away from any nook and crannie since butterflies
like confined space. They do like full sun and the lake
needed water source.
The Agapanthus and the Buddleia will do well in a container
but will grow quite large, outgrowing the container. Our
faced this challenge before and has moved other plants into
landscape. Tiarella, Heuchera and Purple Cone Flower have
into the yard. Fall is a good time to make that move.
Tropicana Canna is a good choice for a plant with a tropical
upright, has a variegated leaf and makes a bold statement.
In the same
container is Hibiscus, its' flower is almost a pure red
and has glossy
leaves, these provide a lot of visual energy. In the front,
over the edges is Lantana. Also in this container is a Day
almost orange color bloom. These plants provide strong,
a variety of forms.
Our gardener wanted a "Western" garden. To accomplish
plants a little further apart, don't mass them together.
situations plants are spaced further apart than in other
parts of the
country. Also choose plants that have upright, sculptural
has planted Octopus Agave next to Red Yucca, both are upright
sculptural. Stonecrops, Sedums are perfect for hot, dry
they tolerate poor soil. Germander is heat tolerant. It
has a silver
cast to the foliage, which tells you it loves hot, dry conditions.
you want something different and you have a rocky area,
think about a
If you would like to add another dimension to your garden
fragrance. Fragrance is the sense that stimulates your memory
Place fragrant plants in areas you normally congregate.
has been placed next to a door and next to a table frequently
eating. White flowers or light colored flowers are often
fragrant. It's unusual for purple of blue flowers to have
any kind of
smell, there is one in this collection, however. At the
back and top
Star Jasmine. It is actually a vine, thus attached to a
provides a bit of height, otherwise it would cascade over
Angel Wing Jasmine is next, its' flowers are a little larger
profuse, its' leaves look like angel wings, opposite one
glossy. They create a nice textural change. Next is Heliotrope,
because it has purple flowers, yet fragrant and provides
White Gem Gardenia is also included. Gardenias come in lots
sizes and shapes. This is a miniature or a dwarf and will
grow to only
one or two feet in size, thus it's ideal for a container
Next to it is Lavender, it is fine textured, has purple
silvery foliage. It is a nice foil and different than everything
this container and adds interest and an upright element.
Deer can be a terrible nuisance. Dr. Rick has seen them
one night, take out an entire backyard. Since Deer haven't
books they will eat just about everything. This container,
plants that should be somewhat more Deer resistant. Allium
Garlic is a great choice, very upright. Heukoras, Coral
don't seem to be a favorite of Deer. Rosemary and Eucalyptus
pungent, aromatic foliage and that seems to keep Deer away
Although she likes all her containers, the next container
of our guest gardener. Because of this it has a place of
honor by the
door. She wanted plants that wouldn't take away from the
it has fine textures and interesting forms. The Tiny Tower
well and reminds Dr. Rick of a plant in Tuscany, a very
Next to it is Black Dragon Mondo, actually a ground cover
growing. False Heather will have a little bit of flower
and a nice
rounded form, it is very subtle and doesn't take anything
container. The plants are dark, the container is light,
is light, providing a nice play against very fine textured
is very subdued.
Terracotta is a wonderful container material but it sometimes
hairline cracks. You don't want those cracks to get too
large or the
whole pot could break apart. To find if you have a hairline
"thunk" test. Balance the pot on a screwdriver
or pen. Then
container with a ring. It should sound like a bell, if on
it sounds like a thump chances are good you have a hairline
Our guest gardener likes containers because they're easy
to get to,
can watch them everyday. It's fulfilling to go outside and
Potting soil is instrumental to the success of container
There are a lot of ingredients in many potting soils. The
soil can be a nebulous term, it doesn't indicate specific
premium potting soil should be light. Can the bag be lifted
so, it probably has a lot of good ingredients. Beware of
with sand or gravel. If you want to add more air to your
Perlite. It is a white material, actually volcanic rock
and under a
microscope looks like little sponges. It does a good job
the soil. If the objective is to hold water, look into Vermiculite.
is heated to about 1,200 degrees and pops like popcorn,
but in potting
mix will hold water. A water absorbing gel will also hold
water is added it goes from a crystal form to a jelly-like
is the same stuff used in baby diapers but if too much material,
than about 1 inch in a 10 inch container, is placed in a
the material expands it will actually push the soil out
container. A better product to consider is called COIR.
It is coconut
fiber, often used in the lining of containers. It holds
the water to slowly move into the soil. Many potting mixes
use it as
ingredient in their mix, you can actually see it. It has
and allows water to be held until needed and doesn't keep
the soil too
wet. Also in some premium mixes there are bark fines or
products. There is nothing wrong with that as long as they're
and completely decomposed. If so they'll add to the soil
rather than pull nutrients away.
Some like to add pot chards to cover the hole at the base
container. Research shows that this isn't really a great
the space of needed soil. If soil continues to wash out
the bottom of
your container consider using a coffee filter over the bottom.
the water to seep through but not soil, bark fines or peat
So, when creating containers think about container ingredients.
half of your soil ingredients to hold water and half to
hold air, with
that mix you can grow incredible plants.
Cactus can do very well in containers if attention is paid
things. One, use terracotta, it breathes well. Also, make
a hole in the bottom because the soil shouldn't be sitting
importantly use a Cactus soil mix, a mix that has a lot
of sand, a lot
of perlite. Although most plants don't thrive in mixes with
a lot of
sand, because it dries too fast, Cactus requires this condition.
fact, over watering is the number one way to kill a Cactus.
Cactus in a new container roll up a newspaper and use it
as a set of
prongs. Pull the cactus out of the old container with the
it down in it's new container. As you put the soil in make
of the Cactus is not surrounded by soil because it will
tend to rot
die if the base stays too moist.
Water is one of the most fascinating features in any garden.
in a small space where a lake or water falls aren't possible
A large container and a smaller container are needed. The
container will sit inside and a little above the larger
they should both be similar material, in this case terracotta.
smaller container needs to be sealed, the hole at the bottom
plugged so it will hold water. Silicone works well for this
Rick uses aquarium sealer to plug the hole at the bottom
pot. Terracotta breathes, thus water will slowly seep from
container through to the larger pot, providing the plants
container a constant source of water. Once sealed, place
container into the larger container, the smaller container
positioned a little above the larger container. Adding a
mix to the larger container will help add height. A small
pump is then used, it needs to be small so it can fit inside
pot. This pump should have a way to increase or decrease
the volume of
water moving through. And it needs to have an on-off switch.
this typically cost $15-$20 and can be found at most home
stores. A third, small terracotta pot will be inverted and
the pump in the smaller pot. A piece of tubing attaches
to the pump
goes up through the hole in the pot used to hide the pump.
a file and made a small groove in the side of the smaller
pot to place
and hide the cord for the pump. On the top of the smaller
pot place a
dish or saucer. Drill a hole in the center, the plastic
go through this hole. Add two additional holes to allow
recirculate down to the pump. Fill the smaller pot with
water and make
sure it's level. Turn on the pump, water will spout, place
chards around the plastic tubing, to diffuse the water flow
the water flow of the pump. Add plants to the larger container,
case Dr. Rick used Zinnias, Vinca, Creeping Jenny and Labelia.
all gaps in the soil with a good potting mix being careful
not to get
soil in the pump area or it could clog the pump. When complete
have a small water feature that can go anywhere in you garden
or on a
We thank our guest gardener, she has done a wonderful job
containers and provided us with many useful Garden Smart
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