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Creating Beautiful Containers

I came across a great container article in Fine Gardening a few years ago called 'Thrillers, Fillers & Spillers' -- a title that serves as a simple recipe for eye-catching containers. First, choose a 'centerpiece' plant to build your design around a plant that is either structural (tall and stately), has unique or colorful foliage or a flower that is dramatic or long-lasting. Next, add a few 'fillers', foliage or flower plants that complement the main plant in color or texture. These secondary plants add mass to the container. Finally, add a plant or two that will 'spill' over the sides of the container. Perennial or annual vines are a good choice and should echo or contrast the other plants. This is the basic container recipe, and as long as you use each type of plant - thriller, filler and spiller - and balance the use of color and texture throughout, you too can create a beautiful container.

General Tips:

  • Plant in combinations of 3, 5 or 7 varieties depending on the size of your container
  • Combine plants with different characteristics -- height, long-lasting flower, bushy filler, attractive foliage, cascading habit, coarse or smooth texture
  • Select plants for appropriate sun/shade conditions
  • Water daily (twice a day in hot, windy weather)
  • Gently pull apart the root ball (or cut in several places with sheers) when planting to encourage growth
  • Pinch back regularly, especially at the beginning, to promote dense growth and shape habit
  • Dead-head regularly (take off spent flowers)
  • Fertilize with a slow release organic fertilizer

If you want assistance with your summer or winter containers, please give MODE Landscape Design a call at 773-519-6491.

Reprinted from MODE Landscape Design Vol 2: Beautiful Containers

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