Containing the Situation

Container gardening can provide lots of options—inside or outside.

Container gardening is the practice of growing plants in some sort of receptacle rather than planting them in the ground. As long as you provide a healthy growing media and the proper amount of light, water and nutrients you can be a successful container gardener. And you hardly ever have to weed container plants.

An added perk: Anyone, from an adult to a child, can have fun container gardening and it is especially well-suited for anyone with physical limitations that may preclude yard work.

Another joy of container gardening is that almost anything can become a “container.” A terra cotta or plastic pot, a bucket or a box and, yes, even an old tire or toilet bowl (though your neighbors may take exception to some of those choices)—as long as a container is nontoxic, holds enough soil for your plant to thrive and allows water to drain away, you can plant in it.

What’s more, you can grow everything from herbs and vegetables to annuals and perennials to shrubs and trees in containers.

For example, a pot full of narcissus, such as the ‘Grand Primo’ and ‘Golden Dawn’ from the Southern Living Plant Collection, can be forced into an early bloom and bring a touch of spring color and fragrance into the house during the winter. SLPC’s Mandevilla Vogue ‘Sophia’ or ‘Vivian’ PPAF cultivars are gorgeous when they are staked or trellised in a pot on the patio, and all three Early Bird™ crapemyrtles or the Southern Living Plant Collection shrub roses are stunning in pots as well. ‘Orange Blossom Special’ dwarf pomegranate, with its ornamental fruits and vivid orange flowers, does beautifully in a container as will the SLPC loropetalums, the Little Bonnie™ dwarf spiraea and any of the Southgate™ rhododendrons.

Elephant ears, nandina and Indian hawthorne all can be used in containers for a diverse mix of purple-to-black and pink foliage colors. Looking for something green to add to your container landscape? Try pittosporum, liriope, yew and mahonia.

Keep in mind that container plants usually need more frequent watering than those in the landscape, especially if they are planted in clay pots. Also, container plants that are left outside all winter may need protection from hard freezes or, if you’re planting something in a large pot that you expect to move inside for the winter, set it on a wheeled base of some sort for easier moving.

The list of possibilities for beautiful, even fanciful container gardens is unlimited…use potted plants as living flower arrangements, accent plants in garden beds, on porches and patios or to add a lushness to any interior space.

No need to contain yourself. Just have fun!