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Container Gardening Simplified

Container Gardening Simplified

Container gardens are a great way to dress up a patio or doorway.  But it’s so much more than that.  These miniature gardens are an opportunity to experiment with gardening trends, explore new flowers, or simply showcase a few favourites.


The Basics:


There are five steps for a successful container garden.


  • Choose the container. Clay, cast iron and ceramic all do well outdoors. You can even be creative and repurpose by using dresser shelves, wheelbarrows, large toy trucks, or even tires! These can become unique spaces for plants to grow. Just make sure that you have enough width and depth for the roots.


  • Check for drainage. Plants love their water but giving them too much can leave your plant at risk for root rot and mold. To check for drainage simply add some water to the container and wait a few minutes. If there is still water in the container, then simply add in small stones or rock chips at the bottom to create drainage.



  • Add growing medium. When choosing, make sure to pick a mixture that is designed for growing in containers, like Garden Gallery’s Organic Container Mixture. This premium soilless mixture includes exactly what you need to get your plants off to a great start including sedge peat, sphagnum peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, fertilizer and micronutrients.


  • Choose the location. When choosing the location, pay attention to how many hours of sunlight the plants will be exposed to. Less than 3 hours is defined as shade, 3 to 5 is partial sun, and 6 plus is full sun. This is vital information when you choose your plants, as each plant requires a certain amount of sunlight to thrive.


  • Choose your favourite plants. This is the fun part, pick your design theme and have fun selecting the plants that will fill your container!



Time to Plant


It’s time to reveal the not-so-secret formula for a successful container garden: Thriller, Spillers, and Fillers. This simple technique is a fool proof way to create beautiful containers.



The Thriller:


The thriller is the star of the show. It is the plant or plants that are taller and a bit bolder than the rest. Since the thriller is the focal point, this should be the first plant that you choose for your container.  Thrillers can either be planted in the centre with the other plants surrounding it or in the back for a more modern take on container gardens.  Whichever design method you choose, make sure that your thriller can be seen from all angles.


Recommended thrillers: Calla lilies, canna lilies, hibiscus, ornamental grasses Angelonia, snapdragons, delphiniums, rosemary, lavender, and kale.



The Filler:


If the thriller is the star of the show, the fillers are the adoring audience. These plants play an essential role in your container garden beautifully filling in the gaps with their foliage and flowers.  When choosing your filler, pick one to three varieties that complement the thriller plant.  Just remember, too many varieties will draw your attention away from the star. 


Recommended fillers: petunia, geraniums, impatiens, lobelia, euphorbia, calibrachoa, alyssum, celosia, marigold, mint, basil,  




Just like the word, these plants are deliberately chosen for their ability to spill out of the container.  When planting spillers, place them near the edge of the container so that they can easily flow over.  These plants can be placed around the entire container or at every angle that the container will be looked at. 


Recommended spillers:  trailing lobelia, bacopa, sweet potato vine and creeping thyme.


Now that you have the formula, here are some design trends that can help you narrow down your selection.



Magnificent Monochrome


This year it’s all about simplicity and uniform design, and there is nothing more elegant than monochrome. It’s about picking one colour and sticking with it. So, your thrillers, fillers, and spillers, may be different plant varieties but they are brought together through colour. The result is a nuanced container where the textures in each variety can be appreciated.


Aesthetic Edibles


Function and aesthetics come together with this container garden focused on edibles. This trend is ideal if you have limited space or if you simply like the textured look of the foliage. Kale, swiss chard, lemongrass, lavender, and thyme, are all great choices to add texture and fragrance to any container.  Enjoy them on their own or mix them in with your annuals.


For the Bees


This design is focused on the pollinators by bringing together a variety of plants that will attract hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.  Cosmos, petunias, lantana, calendula, and calibrachoa are just a few of the annuals that will help bring pollinators to your space.


Moon Gardens

Silver and white flowers are beautiful on their own, but when brought together, these plants seem to glow. This dramatic effect is perfect for those spaces that you tend to enjoy in the early morning and evening.  For added impact, add in a night-blooming flower to the mix.


Mix and Match

The only rule for this trend is that there are no rules. So be creative, and have fun exploring a variety of plant combinations.  Mix annuals, perennials, and tropical plants together, throw in some herbs, or add in some vegetables-the only limitation is your imagination.



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