CREATING BEAUTIFUL SUMMER PLANTERS……
for the first time
Flower planters are a great way to add colour and beauty to any outdoor space. They are also great in the fall and winter for decorative, seasonal touches. For my first blog post I thought I’d walk you through my very first time designing and planting garden containers, the mistakes I made, and what I learned from this experience.
I’ve worked at MPS for 5 summers as a Landscape Enhancement crew leader, so I thought that with all of my experience this would be a breeze…..little did I know that planting and designing my own summer planters would have so many challenges. When I ran a crew at MPS I
was in charge of the softscape for most of our commercial clients, including mulching, planting, and pruning. I had planted large commercial planters but never gardens or planters for residential clients, let alone actually designing them myself.
Step 1- Planters:
First I went and scouted out the right type of planters. I was looking for something durable, modern and simple, to go with the style of the house and existing landscaping. I went to Home Depot and Sheridan Nurseries but found that Home Depot had less selection and poorer quality planters. When investing in a planter you might want to consider paying a little bit more for something that will last for several years, in all types of weather conditions.
I ended up choosing a brand called Veradek, a Canadian company located in Toronto, which is sold at Sheridan Nurseries. The plant containers are made of resin, contain 70% recycled materials and are fully recyclable at the end of their lives. Their products are made to retain soil moisture and are fully resistant to the elements.
I used two 28” Midland Planters retailing for $99.99 which will accent the main door and then a 13” and 18” Nobleton planter for the side door. The Nobleton planters retailed for $59.99 and $69.99 respectively. I decided to go with different heights for the side entrance to add character.
Step 2- Planning:
It is a good idea to have a rough plan before heading to the nursery and becoming overwhelmed by the beautiful selection. Social media and Pintrest have thousands of ideas and styles of planters. I knew I wanted my planters to have more flowers than greenery to add lots of colour. My original plan before going into Sheridan was similar to something like this –>
One important factor to consider is how much sun your flowers will be receiving. Certain flowers prefer all sun, some sun or little to no sun at all! Looking back now I realize that partial sun and full sun are not the same and it really does matter. My planters face south and only receive morning sun until around noon, some of the flowers I choose definitely require more sun and have not done as well because of it.
Step 3- Buying the Flowers:
I knew I wanted to have a tall grass in the middle, taller flowers surrounding the grass and then some shorter flowers with hanging vines/ wave petunias. Nevertheless as soon as I got to the nursery I was completely overwhelmed, even though I had been there a million times and thought I knew what I wanted. There were just so many eye-catching colours and different flowers! After changing my mind countless times, picking up flowers and putting them back down, I ended up going with an assortment of different blossoms, in a variety of colours, nothing like my original plan. This is why it is important to go in with an idea because the amount of flower they have can be a little overwhelming! I ended up purchasing:
My Plant List:
- Pop Star Bidens (x4)
- Silver Helichrysum (the licorice plant) (x4)
- New Guinea Impatients (x12)
- Rocky Mountain Orange Geranium (x4)
- Dummen Orange Geranium Brocade (x4)
- Potato Plant (x4)
- Blue Wave-Petunias (x4)
- Red Star Spike (x4)
Total = $250.00
** Helpful Tip: keep your plant tags/take a picture of them, or write down the plants used in case you decide to do the same arrangement next year!**
Step 4- Preparing the planters:
Since the Midland containers were so tall, I didn’t want to fill the whole planter with soil. So I added gravel to the base of the planter for weight and then inserted a bucket that was flipped upside down to take up the space. Adding weight to the bottom is important to prevent the planter from falling over in a storm or heavy wind.
The soil I bought for the planters is a special 3-in-1 planting mix. You can use top soil or triple mix,
however triple mix can get saturated very easily and top soil may not hold the moisture as well. Potting soil includes peat, composted bark, sand, perlite and even some added slow-release nutrients and fertilizer. Potting soil can be bought at home depot, Walmart, Canadian tire and any garden store.
Step 5- Planting:
Once the planters were ready to go, I started to arrange my flowers. I put the Red star spike in the middle of each planter with 2 geraniums on either side (one with green leaves and one with the green and white leaves). I planted the overhanging plants in each of the corners; the wave petunias, potato plant and the silver helichrysum. Then I filled the gaps with the New Guinea impatients and Pop Star Bidens. The end result is a beautiful, and colourful planter with lots of texture and interest. It will fill-out beautifully throughout the summer.
Step 6- Care:
My grandmother who we refer to as our ‘Martha Stewart’, gave me her secret to beautiful healthy planters- she said “feed, feed, feed” (that’s also how she treats all her grandchildren). She recommended a flower fertilizer to help keep the plants healthy, and produce great colour and blossoms all season long. The nutrients required for plant growth are:
- Nitrogen (N): enhances stem and leaf growth (for most plants, nitrogen ends up being the most important nutrient)
- Phosphorus (P): contributes to flower production, fruit production, seed production and root growth
- Potassium (K): ensures general vigor; helps plants resist disease
Just be careful not to add too much food! After I planted my flowers, I decided to water them and mix in the fertilizer, I didn’t read the instructions very well and instead of adding 3ml of fertilizer/ L of water, I mixed in 30ml…… It didn’t kill my flowers but it was touch and go for a couple of days. I choose the Parkwood Flower Plant Food 15-30-15.
The planters should be watered at least every-other day depending on the weather and the amount of rain and sun they receive. The dead heads of the flowers should be pulled in order to encourage new growth and blossoms!
What I learned through my first planter experience: Looking back on my first experience, I made some minor mistakes and learned a lot despite ending up with pretty nice summer planters. Here are the notes and tips I made for myself, for next summer.
- Use a taller grass in the center of the planter, the Red Star Spike gets lost between the leafy and tall geraniums.
- Don’t fill the planters as much as I did, not enough room for the flowers to grow. Because there is so much squished into the planters, my New Guinea Impatients are completely lost and not tall enough to compete with the other plants.
- The potato vine is very large and I don’t know if I would use it again for these particular planters. I would probably go with something smaller that still grows out.
- I think I probably used too many different types of flowers and colours and it makes less of an impact
- The yellow Star Bidens did not do well in the conditions provided. Although it says sun- part shade and drought resistant maybe the overcrowding effects them.
Well that’s it! I hope you found this a bit insightful and can learn from my trials and tribulations of planting my first summer flower planters.