In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
Matching pots can make any three ordinary plants look like an intentional collection.
Every time you turn around it seems there's a new container on the market. How do you decide which ones will work best for you? There's no one-type-fits-all when it comes to choosing the right containers for your plants, yet choosing the right pot for a plant can be as important as choosing the right location in the garden. So let's look at some things to keep in mind.
Plastic pots are often recommended for people who forget to water. They dry out more slowly than breathable clay and don't crack as easily as clay pottery in cold weather. While reusing old black nursery pots is a good practice, it's also fun to shop for some of the newer, lighter colors of plastic. Green, ivory, and terra-cotta plastic won't trap heat around the roots like black plastic can. New materials and new designs offer a wide array of durable, less commercial-looking plastic pots.
Classic clay has its strong points, particularly for Mediterranean natives like rosemary. Where heavy soils keep their growth rather stunted and amending is not practical, a huge clay pot makes a fine permanent home. Plus nothing develops an aged patina like clay.
Containers can mimic or contrast the plants they hold, and getting it right can be challenging. Squat pots complement round-blossomed geraniums and plumbago, but horsetail or clumping bamboo would appear top-heavy. If height is needed, go for a tall pot with strong upright lines and let papyrus do the rest.
As time goes by, all of us collect odd pots of this and that, and the effect on the porch can be downright visually dismaying. Luckily, designers have put together pots that match or coordinate to unify the setting. If your collection changes over time, let the permanent matching pots act as cache pots and change out what's growing inside.
Sky's the Limit
Although the technical definition of a growing container is anything that holds the plant and has drainage holes in the bottom, that's all today's pots share. For years gardeners drilled holes in 5-gallon buckets to grow tomatoes; then someone got the bright idea to hang a pot upside down and, voila -- the Topsy Turvy Upside-Down Tomato Planter.
The old fashioned strawberry pot lets you plant all around its sides and in the top, too. It's now available in sleek styles that can be stacked for towers of annual flowers and herbs. And self-watering containers are available in more sizes and styles than ever.
On your nursery visits, take time to look over the pots and see what's new. Make a list of the sizes and shapes you need, and take along a tape measure to the store. And watch for the sales, which can make changing the look of your containers a lot easier on your budget.
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