Creating the Perfect Planter

We all see the lovely lush planters in front of storefronts and homes that make your jaw drop. The bright colors and flowing greenery can add a splash of needed color in a dark spot in the garden or liven up an otherwise bland area and bring it back to life.

The first consideration when starting to plant your planters is to select the container it self. There are many container options, they vary in size, shape, style, color, and material. You want to first start by selecting a container that suits your location in terms of color, shape, and size.

When selecting your container you will also want to pay attention to the material in which the container is made of and how you want to use the container. Do you want to have four-season planters? Do you live in a colder climate? You will want to select a material that will withstand the cold weather and the freeze/thaw cycles. This means selecting containers made of wood, fiberglass or plaster over porous containers such as ceramic and terra cotta which will crack.

You also want to ensure that the container you select has adequate drainage so that your plants do not drown. This can generally be obtained by simply drilling holes into the bottom of the container.

Soil is a very important consideration when creating planters. Soil used for planters should be light and airy and texture, you do not want to use soil that you would use in the garden for your planters.

Many commercial planter mixes today contain both fertilizers as well as a moisture control substrate, both of these can be very beneficial to your planters by helping reduce some of your maintenance requirements. Be sure to note if the mix you select to have these and adjust your fertilizing and watering schedules accordingly).

Once you have the base for your planter you can start with the fun stuff, selecting your plants. When choosing plants a good rule of thumb for planters is to choose plants from three categories: “thrillers”. “spillers” and “fillers”.

Thrillers should be the star of your planter! These plants are selected for their interesting shape, long lasting blooms, great texture or foliage color. Choices such as grasses, fun tropicals or tropical-like plants, and bright blooms are excellent choices,

Spillers are an important part of your planter as they will add a bit of fun to your planter! These plants “spill” out of your planter, adding a new element that can help direct the visitor’s eye to another element in your space and help to soften an otherwise hard edge. Plants such as Ivy, Potato Vine, Creeping Jenny and Bacopa are all great options for spillers.

Fillers are the final part of the equation. These plants “fill in” the planter and compliment the other plants in your planter. They can be either foliage plants or flowering plants or a mixture of the two depending on how large your planter is.

No matter what plants you choose to be sure not to choose too many of one plant, keep your plantings in scale to one another. While it is fun to have extremes in your planter, you do not want a huge thriller and then tiny plants surrounding it. You need some balance. Choose plants you like and in the store arrange them to see how they fit together to get an idea of how they might look in your container. And remember, planters are generally seasonal so you can always try again next year!

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