Here's the article I wrote for the June issue of Summit Hill Magazine:
Planters are a great way to generate instant curb appeal in the warmer months. They allow you to add pops of color quickly and early in the season -especially nice if your yard is full of native varieties that tend to bloom later in summer.
I am a plant enthusiast, but I would never call myself a gardener. The knowledge and grit to create and maintain true gardens is beyond my purview– which is why I love planting beautiful pots to decorate the entrance to my home and the patio in the backyard. Planters (sometimes called container gardens) are easy and can be completed in an afternoon.
I talked with Maddy Westby at Lietner’s Garden Center (right in the neighborhood at 945 Randolph) for advice on creating beautiful container gardens.
Start with Large Containers with Fresh Potting Soil
Fresh potting soil in a large enough container will give plants the best shot at thriving. A more generous amount of soil will lengthen the time it takes for your pot to dry out - although there’s no getting around the fact that pots typically need to be watered frequently. If you love container gardening, invest in durable, coordinating planters that you can use for many seasons.
Creating a Balanced Composition
The old adage about using a thriller, filler, and spiller can be quite helpful in selecting plants to include. Choose three or more plants that give you a showy focus point, something that trails out of the edge of the pot, and something that fills in the spaces in between. Maddy likes to use this floral design tip for container gardens, “mix big flowers, such as dahlias, begonias, or geraniums, with smaller, ‘filler’ flowers, such as bacopa, euphorbia, or alyssum.”
Non-Traditional Plants to Consider
Leitner’s had a beautiful pot on display planted with flowers, curly willow, and three types of herbs. The herbs were labeled with shorter stems of willow with the bark shaved away. Herbs, tropicals, and other unusual plants are a great way to add variety and interest.
You can even include a few vegetables – pea vines make great trailers, cucumbers can do well in a large pot, and red lettuces look nice in the spring and early summer. Another great tip from Maddy, “if you’re using curly willow or a small trellis in your pots, throw in some morning glory seeds around them and they’ll grow into a lovely vine later in the season.”
Pollinator, Butterfly, and Hummingbird Attractors
Pots can be a great place to incorporate plants that attract and feed pollinators, butterflies, and birds. You can use honeysuckle and red trumpet vines in containers to attract pollinators and hummingbirds. A butterfly bush (buddleja) is not hardy in the ground as a perennial in Minnesota, but will grow nicely in a container and attract lots of butterflies.