July 03, 2006

Successful containers

Over at Garden Rant they were complaining, with some justification, that hanging baskets rarely work out as advertised, particularly for gardeners in hot climates. I know I've certainly had my share of lackluster performers. Seeing as I don't live in a hot climate (moot point - I've heard Floridians and Africans complain about our summer heat!), I didn't feel I had much to contribute to the discussion.

But it did get me to pondering on what containers, hanging and otherwise, have worked out well for me over the years. So, off the top of my head and in no particular order:

  • Hanging basketmini petunias
  • strawflowers
  • impatiens and coleus (especially combined, with a shot of ivy hanging over the front)
  • geraniums
  • wax begonias
  • tuberous begonias
  • four o'clocks
  • million bells
  • bacopa

And then there are the year-round denizens of pots that spend summers outdoors:
  • oleander
  • tropical hibiscus
  • crown of thorns cactus
  • cyclamen
And finally, I've been quite pleased with the look of the royal fern I've moved to a pot and complemented with violas and creeping Jenny. I'll report further on my perennials in pots when they've had a bit more of a track record.

Other than choosing appropriate plants, I think the reason for my successful hanging baskets is placing wadded newspaper in the bottom of the pot to prevent soil leakage. It also does a wonderful job of holding the moisture in the pot, which results in less stress for the plants and less watering for the gardener.

Consistent with my somewhat contrarian attitude on some things, I'm not a great fan of stuffing great numbers of plants into a single pot, no matter how fashionable it is at the moment. The result, even when it is successful, often looks cluttered and requires an almost blank canvas around it to work on the esthetic level. And I've also found that the tightly packed plants often don't prosper, at least for me. I would have gotten a much better show out of fewer, larger plants, even if it would have required waiting a bit longer to get it.

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