Container gardening has become more popular these days as we are so busy with vacationing, lake cottages, work and family events, that many of us just don’t spend a lot of time with the traditional garden. The container, or combination pot can be made in just a short time and then sat on the porch or patio to be enjoyed all season long. Simple maintenance of pinching off the old blossoms along with watering and occasional fertilizer is all that is necessary throughout the summer. And by having your plants in a pot, you can move them inside if the weather surprises you with a frost advisory.

Before you pick out the plants that you are going to use, pick out a pot. I strongly recommend a larger pot over several smaller pots, as the care of the larger pot is so much easier. Larger pots can go days between waterings while smaller pots will need to be watered every day. Roots have more room to develop in the larger container and the moisture will be more consistent which will result in larger flowers and more flower production. And since these pots will be outside, refrain from using saucers, as saucers tend to hold water too long and can create a rotting root system. Instead, if you have saucers, turn them upside-down and set your pots on top of them.

When I pick out the plants to place in my pots, I start with something tall such as a geranium tree or a hibiscus tree. Usually with the hibiscus tree, I keep it in the original pot and plant it, pot-and-all. This way I can water the hibiscus more often than the other surrounding plants. The roots will grow right on out of the drainage holes in the original pot and will then require watering less often. There are many plants you can use around your tall plant such as “wave” petunias, sweet potato vines (in several colors) or the old favorite, vinca vine.

There are other reasons for using containers such as you may not have an area for a garden and you still want to grow your own tomatoes. Again, pot size, bigger is better, and even more important than which tomato variety you choose. Any variety of tomato will work in a large pot. Fertilizer is important but be sure to use a fertilizer with a higher phosphorous level (the second number) and a lower nitrogen level (the first number). Otherwise you will grow a beautiful, dark green tomato plant, but with no fruit.
I have a trellis attached to the fence so I like to plant a mandevillea vine into a large pot and then set it in front of the trellis so that it has a place to grow and vine and attach itself. This works very well and it really likes the full sunshine. Mandevillea’s like it hot and produce blooms for the entire summer, right up until fall frost.

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