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Step By Step: How to design a container

March 4, 2016 -  By

A basic container design should include a “thriller,” a “spiller” and a “filler”—a combination of an upright plant, a trailer that spills down the sides of a pot and a filler to add fullness and color. Incorporating seasonal plants can keep clients’ containers looking lively year-round, and combining three or more containers of varying sizes and styles can make an even bigger impact.

Other considerations include sun, wind and upkeep.

Regarding sun, consider the type of sun exposure your client’s property receives. “Full sun” is considered six to eight hours of sunlight. “Partial sun” is considered four hours of sunlight. “Partial shade” is two to three hours of sunlight, and “shade” is two or fewer hours of sunlight. Which direction the home faces also plays a role in the type of light received. Homes facing west and south get longer afternoon sun, which is ideal for many plants, including most edibles.

Taller plants can break in gusty winds. Hot, windy days can evaporate water more quickly, requiring more frequent watering. Wind chills also affect plants. Most annuals and edibles need to be covered if the temperature falls below 40 degrees F.

Consider how much time will be dedicated to the care and maintenance of the plants. Some plants are more drought tolerant, while more delicate varieties need regular watering. Plants also need to be deadheaded and fertilized to keep them healthy and to keep the containers looking lush and full.

Step 1

container_art-1Choose a thriller plant. Options include yuccas, cannas, fountain grasses, Angelonias and dracaenas, among others. Ferns, hostas or heucheras can work in shady container gardens.

Step 2

container_art-2Choose a spiller plant. Options include creeping Jennies, lotuses, scaevolas, vincas, sweet potato vines, calibrachoas and bacopas.

Step 3

container_art-3Choose a filler plant. These are available in all different styles, colors and textures. Most annuals are perfect fillers.

Sources: Garden Supply Co., Cary, N.C.; Gethsemane Garden Center, Chicago

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