“GROW GORGEOUS CONTAINER GARDENS”

An excerpt from the free e-book “Grow Gorgeous Container Gardens” was reprinted with permission from Costa Farms. This is part of a series of e-books Costa is producing for consumers, and it was released in March.

5 tips for container design

1. Pay attention to plant size. Use plants that stay in scale with one another, that way you don’t have one variety that overgrows the others.

2. Take advantage of foliage. Choose plants that have interesting or colorful foliage to keep your container looking good if blooms fade.

3. Select a color scheme. Make the most impact with just a few plants by coordinating colors.

4. Add color with cool pots. An interesting planter is an easy way to accent your container garden.

5. Look at textures. After you choose the colors you like, make your containers sing by employing contrasting textures.

5 tips for container care

1. Water well. Your plants rely on you for moisture. If you have an especially hot spot, consider an automatic drip-irrigation system to do the job for you.

2. Fertilize. Keep your potted plants thriving with an application of timed-release fertilizer at planting time.

COURTESY OF COSTA FARMS

3. Pinch for perkiness. Don’t be afraid to pinch or trim any plants that get leggy or overgrown.

4. Add mulch. Use a layer of mulch over the top of your container to keep it cool and reduce water loss from evaporation. You have to water less with mulch!

5. Ensure good drainage. Unless you’re growing a water garden, be sure your container has drainage so excess water can escape.

Plant your container garden

Designing and planting beautiful hanging baskets is easy and just takes a few minutes!

Step 1: Select your basket. Choose a basket that matches your style. Hanging baskets come in two types: plastic and moss. Plastic baskets are easy to plant and care for. Moss baskets consist of a wire frame with a moss or coconut-hull lining. They look more natural than plastic, and you can plant them on all sides to create a ball of bloom. Moss baskets dry out more quickly and need a bit more water to keep them looking good.

Step 2: Look for drainage holes. Good drainage is essential. If you’re working with a plastic hanging basket, make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom. Quality plastic baskets have a drip tray attached to prevent water from spilling down on your head when you water. Moss and coir are permeable so drainage isn’t a problem.

Step 3: Buy potting soil. Choose a quality potting mix. Never use soil directly from your garden; it hardens into a concrete-like ball when dry. Some potting mixes contain granules of dry, slow-release fertilizer, which is an added bonus.

Step 4: Start planting. Add potting mix until it’s an inch below the basket rim. Press into place. Then make holes large enough for your plants. Place the tallest plant in the center of the basket. Surround with bushy, medium-size plants. Tuck in trailing plants around the basket edges to cascade down. After the plants are in place, sprinkle more potting mix to cover the roots.

Step 5: Fertilize. If your potting mix doesn’t contain fertilizer, sprinkle granular, timed-release fertilizer when you plant. Scatter it over the top as if you were adding pepper to a salad. Every time you water, fertilizer will release into the soil, feeding your plants.

Step 6: Just add water. Once you’ve planted your basket, water it thoroughly. Use a watering can or gentle mist from your garden hose until you see water running out of the drainage holes on the bottom of the container.