There are several things to do in preparation. First, of course, is to determine what kind of look you want. Some people like big pots of blooming pots. Others prefer different shades of greenery. Some want a crazy, wild mix of colors, and others like simple, monochromatic tones.
Next, decide if it will be placed in the sun, part shade, or deep shade.
What is your color scheme? I want something colorful and bright so I chose a purple and orange theme. I also chose plants with different colors of foliage to give dimension. Remember that darker colors like reds and purples get lost in deep shade. Save them for the brightly lit spaces. Softer colors like white or pink show up much better in the shade.
Pick your pot and make certain it has drainage holes in the bottom. If it doesn’t, drill some.
For my purposes today, I chose full-sun plants. That means that every plant in the pot must be a full-sun plant. Don’t try to mix sun and shade plants in the same container. My plants are plectranthus, bacopa, coleus, Scaevola, sweet potato vine, lantana, and celosia. I purchased them from a local greenhouse.
When making my choices, I rely on the information printed on the tags. The name, light preference, mature height and spread, blooming time are all on the front and back of the plant tags. They are great resources.
Gather all of your plants and equipment in one place before you start. I usually wear gloves to save my manicure!
Fill the pot to within 3-4 inches from the top rim with a good, all-purpose potting mix. Plain garden soil will not do and it is not usually a good idea to reuse old potting mixes because of the possibility of transmitting diseases.
Position the tallest plant in the center. This allows for height and adds interest. I am using plectranthus because it stands erect and has a slightly bushy habit.
Next, I make a row of intermediate height plants. I chose a sun-loving coleus that will stay low and compact. Not all coleus like full sun and most don’t stay small so read the tag. I also used Scaevola and lantana because of their spreading habits. Then, in between these, I added a third row of sweet potato vine for its pop of bright chartreuse and trailing growth pattern and lavender bacopa for its drape.
Lastly, I added bright firey yellow celosia for splashes of color and to fill in any bare spaces in the planting.
Because I put this patio pot together so late in the season, I chose to use well-established plants grown in 4″ pots. If I had begun this in late winter, I would have used smaller specimens and planted them more sparsely to give them space to grow together and fill in naturally over time.
Once all the plants have been positioned and you like the look, add enough potting mix to fill any spaces that may have been made while setting in the plants. Level it off to just below the rim of the container. This keeps the soil from floating away as you water or when it rains.
The last thing to do is to water in the plants really well. I use a water-soluble all-purpose fertilizer from Miracle-Gro. Follow the directions for mixing and application.
Let the pot drain off any excess water, make any adjustments that might be needed, and place the pot wherever you would like it to be. To cut down on the weight of large containers, I use lightweight molded ones. If the filled pot is too large or too heavy to be easily moved, I simply assemble it where it is going to live from now on!
I’m pleased with the way my purple and orange sun container looks. It’s nice and full and I will keep it compact by regularly grooming the tips to keep growth manageable. It should serve me well all summer.
What will you be planting this season? I’d love to see your pictures!