Planting 23 Flower Containers for Summer Color
Here at the end of April, we’re having summer-like weather in southeast Georgia . . . gorgeous blue skies and high temperatures in the upper 80’s. This week, I planted the flower containers that will be placed on our pool deck and around the yard to provide beautiful blooming color throughout the summer.
I am not a gardening expert by any stretch of the imagination. But, I’ve acquired some experience with planting flower containers over the years, and I want to share my methods with you.
Before going on a buying trip, I collected my flower containers in one area and made a list of the number and sizes of containers that I wanted to use. Next, I made a list of plants that would go into each container. Finally, armed with my lists, I made a trip to The Home Depot to buy the materials that I needed for the project.
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Materials and Equipment
- 6 hanging baskets @ 14” diameter
- 2 hanging baskets @ 12” diameter (similar)
- 2 terracotta pots @ 6” diameter to insert into 2 Grecian urns (similar)
- 3 blue glazed pots @ 12” diameter (similar)
- 2 blue glazed pots @ 9” diameter
- 2 glazed pots with etched designs @ 8” diameter
- 5 terracotta pots @ 12” diameter (similar)
- 1 terracotta pot @ 10” diameter
My pots all have drainage holes. If the holes are very large, I place a coffee filter in the bottom of the pot before adding soil to prevent the soil from falling out with watering. If the holes are not too large, I don’t bother with the coffee filters.
- Miracle Gro potting soil. 1 – 50 qt. bag and 1 – 25 qt. bag
- Miracle Gro Bloom Booster Flower Food
- 6 coco basket liners @ 14” diameter
- 2 coco basket liners @ 12” diameter
- 1 flat of 12 purple petunias
- 1 flat of 12 yellow zinnias
- 1 flat of 12 marigolds
- 10 pots @ 4” diameter of Spikes (Mexican Feather Grass)
- 4 pots @ 6” diameter of Dusty Miller (I got 3 plants out of each pot)
- 4 pots @ 4” diameter of yellow Portulaca
- 4 pots @ 4” diameter of fuchsia Portulaca
- 2 pots @ 6” diameter of Dracaena (similar) — indoor plant for use on the screened-in front porch
- Large potting bench
- Portable potting bench (on wheels)
- Garden trowel
- Gardening gloves
- Garden hose
- Garden hose nozzle with adjustable settings
- Garden hose reel mobile cart
Thriller-Filler-Spiller — Making the Flower Power Happen
I don’t know where or when I first heard the phrase “thriller . . . filler . . . spiller” referring to flower containers. But, it’s a handy phrase to remember. The thriller will be a tall plant that grows up vertically in the center of your container. The filler and spiller plants are shorter, thicker, and/or spreading (running) plants that fill the container and spill over the sides.
For thrillers, I used 10 Spikes (Mexican feather grass) in some containers and 12 Dusty Miller in other containers. My fillers and spillers were: (1) 12 marigolds, (2) 12 purple petunias, (3) 8 portulaca, (4) 12 zinnias, and a red geranium with a couple of vine remnants that survived the winter in my pots from last year.
Tips and Directions for Planting
- Water your new plants when you get them home from the store.
- If you do not transplant your plants on the first day, be sure to keep them watered.
- Remove old coco mats from hanging baskets.
- Remove dead plant material and old soil from pots.
- Rinse pots with the garden hose.
- Use fresh potting soil enriched with plant nutrients, such as Miracle Gro.
- When removing a plant from the container that it came in from the store, push your thumb up under the bottom of the pot to loosen the plant and then carefully remove the tender plant from the top.
- Gently separate the roots of the plant so that they can spread out in their new home.
- The roots of some plants are so densely compacted that it’s difficult to separate them. Using a knife or the edge of your trowel, make cuts lengthwise along the roots in 2-3 places around the plant so that you can separate the roots.
- Fill your container about one-third full of fresh potting soil.
- Scoop out a small hole in the middle and plant your thriller. The thriller will be the tallest plant in the container. Gently tamp the soil around the thriller plant.
- Scoop out small holes on either side of your thriller to place your filler and spiller plants. These plants will spread out to fill your container and spill over the sides.
- After planting your filler and spiller plants, gently tamp the soil around them. Then, fill your container with fresh potting soil up to about an inch below the top.
Here’s a disclaimer!
When I look at photos of flower containers planted by professionals online or in magazines, I notice that they are always chock-full of plants and they look gorgeous. Those photos usually show about 6-8 plants stuffed into containers of 10”-12” size. My containers look much less dense. But, truthfully, I can’t afford to fill my 23 containers stuffed to the brim. It would be quite expensive! And, my flowers will grow to fill out my containers over the next few weeks. So, they’re going to be just fine!
- As soon as you fill each container with plants, be sure to water them. Use the “mist” setting on your water hose nozzle so that you won’t damage the tender, young plants. Keep watering each container until the soil is thoroughly saturated.
Tips for Continued Care of Your Flowers
- Continue to water your flowers daily or every-other-day.
- As time goes by, be sure to dead-head your flowers. This means pulling off and discarding any dead or wilted blooms. Dead-heading allows the plants to put their energy into producing new blooms throughout the season.
- After about 4 weeks, begin to feed your flowers with Miracle Gro Bloom Booster Flower Food. Feed them every 7-10 days, mixing the flower food with water according to package directions.
- Around mid-summer, when plants become leggy, trim them back to allow them to fill out again. This always seems counterintuitive to me, because I hate to cut green growth and blooms. But, it does allow the plants to continue to flourish throughout the season.
I’ll place these blue glazed pots around the pool deck because they match the blue tile around our pool.
These terracotta pots will become nice additions to the pool deck and the little garden around the fountain.
The two Dracaena Warneck (lemon/lime) for the screened-in front porch are indoor plants. They will be placed in a very shaded area under a roof.
Takeaways from this Project
- Gathering and measuring my containers allowed me to plan for the plant material that I needed.
- Taking a detailed list with me to Home Depot helped me to make choices easily.
- My flowers will be placed in areas where they get at least 6 hours of sun per day (except for the ones on the front porch). I chose my plants accordingly. Home Depot places signs around their gardening shop describing which plants should get full sun, partial sun, or shade. This takes away the guess-work when choosing plants.
- Now that I have my flowers planted, it’s time to get the deck and yard in shape for summer.
- I’m planning to publish another post in a few weeks to show you the progress.
How’s everything going at your house? Have you planted flowers or vegetables for the summer?
Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.
Enjoy Life Creatively!