Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tips for Growing Your First Container Garden

I've never been much of a gardener. I know how to run the automated sprinkler system, but pretty much all of the plants in our yard are the ones that came with the house and managed to survive without any maintenance. My mom-in-law, on the other hand, has three acres in her backyard and devotes a decent portion of it to a massive flower and vegetable garden.

Flower garden collage
Enviable evidence of my mom-in-law's green thumb
On Mother's Day, the women of K's family make an annual trip to the plant nursery to load up on new additions to their landscaping, and I always end up sitting on the sidelines, waiting for them to finishing making them many selections. Not any more! It must be the pregnancy nesting hormones in my blood, but this year I was inspired to create two flower container gardens for the end of our driveway. Here's what I bought:
  • 2 large outdoor pots with drainage holes (22" diameter)
  • 2 large bags of Miracle-Gro potting soil
  • 4 types of plants
    • Draping plant - Creeping Jenny
    • Short plant - Yellow daylily
    • Medium-height plant - Purple meadow sage
    • Tall plant - Red Mexican sage
Starting to plant my flower container garden
Finally gettin' some use out of my gardening gloves!
The first two were easy since I got them both at our local Sam's Club. As for how I chose the flowers, I did a little research on Pinterest, but mostly felt overwhelmed by all the choices and variety. Honestly, I would say the best advice is to ask someone at the nursery for help. Based on the size of my containers, the attendant advised me to only select three to four plants, which significantly reduced my anxiety. Here are some tips I learned:
  1. Make your garden look interesting by selecting plants of different heights, leaf shapes, textures, and leaf and flower colors.
  2. Pick flowers that will bloom all season (spring to fall) or bloom multiple times.
  3. If your garden will be outdoors in full sun, choose hardy, climate-appropriate plants that aren't as high maintenance. In my case, the attendant steered me toward the perennials that require less watering in dry weather and attract hummingbirds.
Once I brought the plants home, I just followed the directions on the back of the potting soil. However, I did see one helpful tip online: cover the pot's drainage hole with styrofoam packing peanuts to prevent soil from leaching out. Anyway, I really hope that my first venture into container gardening is a success! Maybe one day I'll expand my efforts with vegetables and herbs, but for now I'm content to mooch off the efforts of K's mom. :P

Container garden - creeping Jenny, daylily, meadow sage, salvia, Mexican sage
A little lopsided, but not too bad :)

What kind of DIY projects have you been up to this spring?

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