Columbia Star

Container Gardening



Here’s What You Need
•Container with drainage holes or a self watering pot 15 to 24-inch diameter or 24 to 36-
inch long window box good starting point. The bigger the container the more plants and
moisture it will hold.
•Well-drained potting mix that retains moisture.
•Slow release fertilizer—Incorporate at planting, no need to fertilize again for six to eight
•Plants that all require the same amount of moisture and will thrive in the existing sunlight.

Container Care
•Check containers daily and water thoroughly whenever the top inch of soil begins to dry
•Reduce watering with:
• A layer of mulch on the soil surface to conserve moisture
• Self watering pots—you’ll be watering less often while providing the
plants a constant flow of water from the pot’s reservoir
• An irrigation system and timer
• Watering devices like plant nannies

• Slow release at planting and mid-season if needed

Design Ideas
•Consider color and texture in all your containers.
•Incorporating a thriller (tall plant focal point), filler (fills open spaces) and spiller (trailing
plant) is a good place to start.

Thriller—Vertical Accents
•Purple Majesty millet, Verbena bonariensis, Sparkler cleome, dwarf sunflowers, snapdragons, stock, and other spiky annuals
•Fountain grass, ornamental grasses
•Bronze fennel, dill, lovage and other herbs
•Corn, Swiss chard, onions and garlic, ornamental mustard, kale, tomato, pepper and
•Vines on obelisk or trellis—beans and cucumbers, pole beans, peas or Malabar (climbing) spinach or ornamental vines like Spanish flag (Mina lobata), canary and cardinal

Here are some plants to consider:
•Creeping Rosemary, oregano, mint, nasturtium, sage and strawberries
•Vinca—the traditional or one of the newer cultivars like ‘Illumination’
•Dichondra ‘Silver Falls,’ golden moneywort or licorice vine
•Deadnettle Lamium maculatum ‘Beacon Silver’
•Sweet potato vine (new more compact varieties now available), lotus vine
•Ivies, giant purple inch plant, spider plant, philodendron, and other trailing houseplants

•Herbs—variegated sage, parsley, basil.
•Vegetables–lettuce, spinach, beets, radishes, and other ornamental vegetables
•Calendula, pansies, nasturtiums, and other edible flowers
•Fragrant—heliotrope, alyssum
•Bird and butterfly appeal—verbena, pentas, cupheas
•Houseplants—ferns, begonias, polka dot plant.
•Coral bells, geranium, threadleaf coreopsis (Tweety & Little Bird), and other perennials
•Small annual and perennial ornamental grasses and sedges

Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including The Midwest Gardener’s Handbook and Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally-syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio program. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Her web site is

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