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Container Gardening Makes Fall Art Work
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
Floral accents at entry ways give a feeling of warmth and welcome. Beautiful fall-colored flowers and plants gives us the opportunity to create a floral work of art not only for the landscape, but for planters, too!
Container gardening is not just for the spring or summer. With flowers like pansies, violas, flowering kale or cabbage, dianthus and chrysanthemums, the choices for your fall planter are great.
To add greenery to the planters, choose from ivy, asparagus fern, edible lettuce or small shrubs like juniper or ligustrum.
Select a container that will give your plants' roots room to grow, but not so much that they will fill the pot. Consider the mature size of the plants you will be growing, and follow spacing recommendations.
Pots with a small amount of soil dry out faster and require frequent watering, so the deeper the pot, the less watering it will need. Small pots or hanging baskets also make plants more susceptible to cold damage.
Container-grown plants have a benefit other than being moveable when extra cold weather occurs. You can select and modify the soil to grow almost any plant.
With planters, you will be more successful buying ready-made mix instead of digging up native soil, adding organic matter and then sterilizing it. Ready-made mixes are weed free and have added nutrients. Peat, perlite and vermiculite mixtures with their moisture holding capacity work well in containers.
Containers can provide garden plots in high-rise apartments or homes with no traditional space for a garden. Their mobility gives the option of placing them in the sun or shade as required by the specific plant.
Planting in containers is much the same as planting in the landscape. Place bedding plants, shrubs or trees with the top of the root ball even with the soil line. Keep these well-watered as they get established.
To keep plants well-fed and blooming, use a time-released granular fertilizer or water with a dilute-liquid fertilizer.
The Pacific Northwest in known for the gorgeous ways they mix plants in baskets, bowls or containers on the street. These containers have six or seven different knockout colors.
Be your own artist, and you can make your own colorful fall displays. Place large plants in first, then place smaller plants around the perimeter and in pockets created by greenery.
Why not use herbs in your bowl or planter? You could fill it with oregano, lemon thyme, parsley, cilantro, chives, mints or an erect rosemary topped with your winter flowers. The herb leaves can be harvested, used fresh in holiday dishes like pork or poultry, or dried and stored in airtight containers for later use. Your garden center is loaded with herbs right now.
The gorgeous colors of fall don't have to be limited to the yard or landscape. We can create a planter for the porch that will welcome your visitors the way the symbol of the pineapple welcomed visitors in the 18th century.