The Q&A Archives: Grouping Plants In Containers

Question: I always see these beautiful containers with 6 to 8 different plants in them in books I read. Could you please help me make my containers look as nice. I like the ones that have foliage and flowers together.
My containers will be in sunny locations. I would like to make 2 containers like this for my courtyard entrance to our front door. (Each one different than the other) I would also like one for shady location too.

Answer: Remember that the photos are often taken at the end of the season when the plants are in their prime fullness and that in some cases the photos are staged -- the plants are stuck in together just for the photo and didn't really all grow there together like that.

An easy way to do this is to take the picture with you to the nursery and ask the staff to help you with plants that will approximate that look but do well in your local climate. Another way to do it is to go to the nursery with your container and mix and match plants until you get a look that pleases you. If you do this at a time when the nursery is not terribly busy, the staff probably won't mind. (In other words, don't do this on a Saturday in prime shopping time.) In your climate you may find that the tropical plants now being sold for containers do very well in the summer heat.

First off, healthy plants will look best, so select plants that need similar growing conditions and soil conditions and plant them together. Then be sure to keep them watered and fertilized and groomed on a regular basis. You might find that using a water holding polymerin the soil mix is helpful and that larger containers are easier to keep looking good because the soil in them stays cooler and moister longer. Finally, don't skimp on the quantity of plants, and start with larger ones if you can, such as from four inch pots rather than 6 cell packs. This will go a long way towards nice containers.

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