Fantastic Flora

Published 12:06 am Saturday, June 2, 2012

Thagard Colvin, a City of Andalusia volunteer, waters the pot in front of Brooks True Value Hardware. According to Colvin, pots must get lots of water during the summer months. | Stephanie Nelson/Star-News

There’s nothing like a pretty container garden to set off a certain spot on the front porch, or to give an element of design for any area of one’s yard.

Anyone can make a great container garden. From simple to elaborate, the possibilities are limitless. Most gardeners recommend looking at pictures or even the pots around the Court Square to get ideas for plant combinations, color schemes and interesting containers.

For starters:

Pick a container: Almost any vessel can be used as a planter, as long as it has holes for drainage and will last one growing season, but take time to decide what type would best suit your design — and your plants.

When choosing a pot, remember that large containers hold more soil and water, and therefore dry out more slowly than small planters. So, if you can tend to your pots only a couple of times a week, avoid small terra-cotta pots will need watering up to twice a day in summer. Also think about the shape of the pot. If you plant a shrub in an urn-like container with a slim neck, as the roots spread within the pot, the plant effectively becomes locked in. When the shrub needs repotting, you will almost certainly have to break the pot.

Pick a spot: The location of your container garden will dictate what kind of plants need. Areas in the full sun require plants that won’t wilt and die during the summer blaze. The same can be said for those that need shade. Of course, don’t forget those areas that get both sun and shade – there’s a plant for that, too.

Plant a pretty: A nice mix of annuals and perennials is a good place to start. Examples include lavender, petunias (which come is a host of colors), salvia and geraniums. Pick flowering plants to give the pot a wide color scheme. Also remember to add plants with a variety of heights to give your container garden depth. Examples include ornamental millet, wind dancer grass and even “elephant ears,” or colocasia. Helichrysum and dichondra make a nice cascade. Coleuses, with their variegated leaves, give both depth and color to any container.