Saturday, May 19, 2012

Container Gardening Essentials

 Not all garden creations are grown in the ground. The right aesthetic combination of plants can make for a stunning container display with no shovel or hoe required.

Whispering Hills' own flower expert Shelley Isenhart has come up with the perfect guide to container planting, and it starts with three words.

Thrillers, Fillers, and Spillers: Steps to a gorgeous container garden

-Thrillers, not to be confused with the talented dancing corpses in Michael Jackson's hit video, are tall, interesting plants to be placed in the center or back of a container. Good thrillers add a central, eye-catching element and include ornamental grasses or tall varieties of coleus.

Diamond Frost Euphorbia
-Fillers are plants that provide an accent feature to the container. Petunias, euphorbias, and impatiens make excellent fillers. Specific varieties recommended include the million bells petunia, the Diamond Frost Euphorbia, and the New Guinea Impatiens.

Sweet potato vine, a stunning spiller
-Spillers give the container character by adding color and spilling over the sides. One of the most popular new spillers is the sweet potato vine, a bright green, leafy roamer that is very low-maintenance.

-Use high-quality potting soil in the container and add a granular, time-released fertilizer such as Florikan's Dynamite.

-Maintenance is the key to a successful container garden. Stressed container plants will look the part quickly, so it's important to practice 'deadheading' - the pruning of dead blooms - and water frequently. Probe the soil with a finger every other day to check for moisture content.

For more information on container gardening, visit the guide at the University of Illinois Horticulture Extension.