The Versatile Pot

Give your yard that extra “Ahh!” factor by decorating it with pots of colorful flowers and interesting plants. Not only is “potting up” a quick way to spread color and cheer throughout your yard, it is also a relatively easy way create a spectacular garden in a short time. Compared with traditional, in-the-ground garden plants, potted gardens are more temporary, but they also offer opportunities to change with the seasons and they are portable. And you don’t need to worry about turning and amending the soil, just fill your pots with a good potting soil that contains a slow-release fertilizer and then easily insert your plants. When the lifetime of the fertilizer has expired—usually three to four months—it’s probably time to change out your plants for the next season, and you can then use the same soil and add your own slow-release fertilizer.

When choosing plants for your containers, remember to combine ones with similar moisture and light requirements—don’t mix shade plants with those that like plenty of sunshine or drought tolerant plants with those that need moist soil conditions.

Potting up in containers makes gardening so easy, and oh, the places they’ll go! With pots, you can garden in otherwise impossible places and grow plants that you might not include in your garden. You can utilize your limited space better with potted plants or help to break up large, empty areas in your yard. You can keep spreading plants—ones you would really like to grow but are afraid of letting them loose in your yard—in pots. You can grow exotic and unusual plants that may not do well in your yard but potted up, they can receive the special care they might need. Here are a few suggestions for creating your own portable garden.

Make a Grand Entrance
It doesn’t matter what style your home is—formal or informal, casual or stately—potted plants can add emphasis to the architecture. A more formal house calls for architectural evergreen plants such as bay, box or other evergreens that can be clipped and shaped. Here, the pot itself is also important and becomes a feature as well as the plant it contains. Use fewer pots and let each potted plant make an architectural statement.

Small homes, country homes and cottages are just the opposite—here ebullience is the answer; let the plants overwhelm the architecture. Dozens of pots containing bright flowers in a wide range of colors will enliven the entrance and welcome visitors. Try using a lot of tropical and subtropical plants, such as angel’s trumpets, bougainvilleas, and lilies, as well as bright—even garish—cottage-type flowers.

Step Lively
Steps are a great place for adding plants to soften hard corners and inject a bit of stylish emphasis. Plants placed up and down the side of steps help to guide the visitor—don’t place them on the side that has the handrail. Almost anything goes in a sunny location. Ferns and other shade plants work well for decorating steps that are in the shade.

Sit Down and Stay A While
This can be the most rewarding location of all the areas in your yard where you might add potted plants. A sitting area, such as a porch, patio or a garden bench offers the opportunity to linger and enjoy the outdoors in a pleasant area that has been decorated with potted plants. Place scented plants and plants you love near these areas so you can take the time in a restful moment to enjoy them.

Wall Flowers
Not the kind that sits it out at a dance, these wall flowers offer “right in your face” spectacular interest—they are vertical flower beds. Take a cue from small courtyards found in Italy and Greece, where they utilize every space available, including walls. Wall flowers are an excellent way of softening severe architectural features, and a wall of flowers at the end of a garden provides a gently, yet powerful impact. Smaller, lightweight pots should be used here. Attach them with wall brackets, or build shelves and cut a number of holes—spaced horizontally along the board—to place the bottom of the pots in. This will keep them from falling or being blown off during heavy winds.

Many gardeners get spring fever at the beginning of the season and rush to the nearest plant nursery or retail center and load up with impulse buys. Not to worry! Pots are the answer. Just shop to your heart’s content, then go home and pot up!