How to Choose Plants for Outdoor Containers

Planting in containers is a good idea for those who lack space and time for regular gardens. Maybe you want to use plants in pots to decorate your porch or patio. Since many plants over-winter well, you can keep your container plants indoors when it's cold and put them out again in the warmer months. Knowing how to choose plants for outdoor containers will help ensure success.

Steps

  1. 1
    Grow a vegetable garden in containers. Many vegetables do well in containers. Tomatoes, peppers, onions, beans, lettuce and squash are typical vegetables which can be container grown.
    • Climbing plants like cucumbers and pole beans need a trellis or fence upon which to grow.
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    • Small fruited tomatoes such as cherry tomatoes do well in hanging baskets.
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    Plant herbs such as parsley, rosemary, basil, mint, and dill in pots. Keep herbs pruned to keep them from over growing. Use them regularly to season your cooking.
  3. 3
    Choose from among a myriad of annual flowers to use in containers.
    • Snapdragons, zinnias, petunias, geraniums, and marigolds are among the flowers that do well as potted plants. Cosmos, coreopsis and periwinkles are also good choices.
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    • Be sure to place shade loving plants such as impatiens or begonias where they get only partial sun.
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    • Plant taller flowers in the center of the pot and surround them with shorter plants. Cascading flowers are especially good to use in a container such as a hanging basket or window box.
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    • An advantage to planting flowers in containers is that you can easily move them around to take advantage of sun and rain or to protect them from strong winds or hail. Placing a very large container on wheels will allow you to move it easily as well.
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    Use good potting soil and be sure to allow enough room in the container for the root system of the plant you are potting. Water and fertilize as the requirements of your plant dictates.
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    Consider planting perennials in containers. Choose those that need only moderate watering and have longer blooming seasons.
    • Be sure your container will contain an expanding root system as a perennial plant can live and grow for years.
    • Since your perennial plant can be overwintered and will grow for many seasons, planting perennials is practical and economical.
    • Lavender, yarrow, coneflowers, astilbe, hostas, and lilies are some perennials you may consider growing.
    • Plant a perennial shrub such a rose, hydrangea, or camellia in a container. Small fruit trees or citrus trees also do well as potted plants.
    • Many perennials can be divided and thinned to make new plants which makes them an even more practical choice.
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    Remember to use ornamental grasses and plants with interesting or colorful foliage as well. Coleus plants have a range of bright foliage from which to choose. Ivies and even cactus also are good candidates for your container garden.
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    Maintain your container plant by regularly checking for pest infestation and disease. Since plants in containers tend to dry out rapidly, use a water retaining potting mix or mulch. Placing plants in larger pots also helps keep them from drying out too easily.

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Categories: Gardening