With winter coming and the holiday season upon us, adding a bit of color in containers creates a festive mood. You can do this several ways by either larger broad containers filled with mixed plantings, or grouping container plants together to make a larger display. There are several advantages to either method. In a single broad container, all your plants will show up nicely and it is easy to water, move, etc. With grouped container displays, you also have the versatility of changing the display when something fades, or adding another plant just as it reaches it’s peak of showiness. Basic design principles apply here and are very important and easy to learn. Use smaller, lower, or trailing plants as facers, borders, or edgings and graduate the heights up to the back or center. That simple technique gives a logical placement to the display. You can add supplemental seasonal color with berried branches, or flowers placed in floral tubes or water vessels placed between containers for a holiday decor. Poinsettas are typical Christmas accents and can be placed within the planting of a larger single container or grouped in a cluster of containers. Don’t forget other accents like cyclamen, pansies, violas, primroses, Christmas cactus.
A diffferent approach and one that is very much in the minds of people nowadays are edible plants in containers. Your cool season veggies are wonderful in containers. There are many different types of lettuce, kale, cabbage that look wonderful with their purple foliage colors and the more typical greens. Also there are different leaf textures and forms to provide interest. And best of all, you just snip the greens when you want a salad. Herbs make wonderful container plant companions as well. You will find many of widely varying leaf shape and texure as well as variegated forms to give additional interest.
Planting to accomodate similar growing needs and light exposures will give a more successful result. For instance, you should plant sun lovers together and shade loving plants together. They associate well as you will discover! With most herbs, just snip them lightly to use only what is needed or to keep them compact.
Soil mixes for all should be fertile and drain well. You can plant young starter plants or from seed. Pelleted seed is preferred since it is easier to plant at proper width distance and also depth. (*tiny seeds are difficult to space properly and also to avoid too deep planting initially.)
Regular watering and feeding are necessary for the edible veggies. Herbs are not that heavy feeders generally.
For more decorative scented things, try many of the scented geraniums. They are tough, easy care plants for sunny exposures. For shade, try some of the mints.
Larger ornamental accents include many of those garden subjects, but these are planted as young plants and containerized. Things with dramatic foliages, lush appearance often give very satisfactory results in containers. Heucheras come in dazzling foliage colors, textures. Planted in association with other showy ornamentals like some of the smaller cordylines, phormiums, the display is always showy since the effects are derived from foliage and not flowers. Flowers too have their place in containers to brighten up the wintery landscape. Winter annuals, perennials and bulbs give welcome flowers anywhere they are placed! Many are scented(daffodils, narcissus, hiacynths, some tulips, etc.)
Young shrubs such as winter daphne (Daphne odora cvs.) winter honeysuckle bush(Lonicera fragranitissima, L. pupursii, L. standishii) are all wonderful as young specimens in containers with their pervasive prespring scents.
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