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Thursday, 31 May 2018 14:12

Summer Container Plants

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Now that May is here it's time to start planning your summer garden!

Summer is the perfect time of year to plant container plants. We have creative ideas that we want to share with you to help you get some fun new inspiration into your garden.

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You may be wondering: what is a container garden? A container garden can be a playful tub filled with vegetables, a window box with annual flowers, or an old crate filled with flowers.

It is truly any pot containing plants so get as creative as you'd like and utilize plants that will flourish and grow in your conditions (taking into consideration sunlight, shade, geographical location, etc.).

Selecting the container for your garden:

As you pick what container best fits your garden, think about the types of plants you want to grow in it, where you plan to put it, and whether there's proper drainage.

Setting up your container:

Start with an inch or two of crushed gravel, Styrofoam pellets or broken shards of terra cotta that will provide sufficient drainage in large pots. However, before you get started, make sure you've considered what kind of pot to use.

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Container Pot Options:

o Rooftop gardens: For rooftop container plants large pots are recommended to avoid small pots being blown over in high winds. Sometimes these pots are anchored with cables attaching to the rooftop surface to be extra safe from the winds.

o Terra cotta pots: Terra cotta pots are very popular with their medium-priced costs and the flexibility of sizes available which make for a beautiful grouping. The porous clay evaporates faster than plastic which is great for the plants but does provide extra work for the gardener!

o Cement composite containers: Cement planters such as hyper tufa English troughs are wide but shallow, great for alpine plants, miniature conifers, sedums, and other small collections. These mini gardens are ideal to be placed on a table top, a step, garden wall, or within a larger garden.

o Plastic containers: Plastic containers are inexpensive, lightweight, nonporous and ideal for hanging baskets or for plants which are inserted into a larger more decorative container. Plastic trays are ideal for window liners.

o Molded plastic pots: Molded plastic pots are well priced, lightweight and simulate terra cotta, limestone, and other natural materials at a much smaller cost.

o Natural wood: Natural wood is beautiful in a garden but will rot unless you line with metal or plastic. Treated wood will last longer but is not advisable for growing edible plants.

Once you've selected your pot, don't forget to choose the right soil, water, and fertilizers.

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Soil, Water & Fertilizers:

Soilless potting mix is recommended for container plants because of its lightweight and how quickly it drains, encouraging quick root growth. Most soilless mixes are made of peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite, sometimes with a little sand and fertilizer.

Container pots tend to dry out quickly, especially in climates like Chicago that experience hot summers and windy weather. This type of climate requires frequent watering which can flush out the soil nutrients. To combat this, we recommend regular use of fertilizer to add back the nutrients. Begin by watering the plants before fertilizing with a diluted quarter-strength balanced product and continue to use a few times a month afterwards. Plants that flower constantly until frost need fertilizer the most.

Now that you've set your container plants up for success, consider planting these 12 “best bet” flowers recommended by Apartment Therapy for the Chicago area.

We hope this has helped you get started planting your very own summer container!

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