You don’t have to be choosy

Love a plant? Got a container? Really, you shouldn’t stress about what’s in your container garden. According to Melanie Bedner of Bedner’s Farm and Greenhouse, most plants will grow well in containers. However, you’ll need to adjust your tactics with each plant you choose.

“The bigger the plant size, the bigger container you’ll need,” she explained. “Larger tropical plants, like hibiscus or Mandeville for example, will need a larger pot. You’ll need at least a 5-gallon container for veggies, like tomatoes or peppers.”

You can even grow perennials, trees and shrubs in containers, but keep in mind that these will need to be transferred to the ground come fall to survive the winter.

You can mix it up

As with a floral arrangement, complementary plants work beautifully well when planted together in containers. Bedner recommends having fun with the process and letting your creativity shine. It’s common to mix thrillers (tall plants), fillers (mounding, bushy plants) and spillers (trailing plants) for an eye-pleasing effect.

“Plant multiple containers that all coordinate around a theme of colors; coordinate colors with your hardscape and patio or porch furniture colors, plant flowers for your favorite sport teams’ colors (black and gold, anyone?) or school colors for graduation parties,” she suggested. “Then you can add in a fun sign."

Container gardening also offers you the freedom of changing up your landscape with the change of seasons. When summer is over, replant with fall mums, pansies, ornamental cabbage or kale and fall décor like Indian corn, straw pieces and gourds. Once Thanksgiving is over, mix it up with evergreens, berries and winter-themed decorative sticks.

The secret’s in the mix

While there are few rules when it comes to container gardening, good soil is certainly one of them. Bedner recommends using a premium-quality potting mix to help your plants grow and thrive.

“We use and recommend Pro-Mix or Bumper Crop,” she said.

While some might tell you to use filler in your containers — anything from gravel to packing peanuts — doing so may cause your soil to dry out quicker. Instead, use a pot appropriately sized for your chosen plants and then fill the container with potting mix.

Go by touch

Dead plants certainly undermine a beautiful container garden, so be sure you know the watering needs of your plants.

“Check for watering needs daily by touch,” Bedner recommended. “Feel the first couple inches of soil and only water if it’s not already wet.”

You’ll also want to fertilize your plants with a water-soluble plant food at least once a week.

“You can also help prevent insect problems by applying a granular, systemic insecticide to the top couple inches of the potting mix.”

There’s help out there

If you’re all thumbs and not a green-thumb, you don’t have to be intimidated by container planting. Expert gardeners are just around the corner at Bedner’s Farm and Greenhouse.

“We have staff experts to help with design ideas and gardening tips,” Bedner said. “We also offer a custom planting service for those with little time or desire to plant on their own. Just drop off your containers, give us specifics on what you want planted – or tell us the colors or sun requirements and give us free reign. We also offer at-home and business custom container plantings. Just call us for a quote.”

For additional information on container gardening and an array of other useful gardening advice, check out BednersTV on Youtube or their webpage www.bednersgreenhouse.com

This article is sponsored by Bedner’s Farm & Greenhouse.

A journalism graduate from Brigham Young University, Kristen Price has experience writing in a variety of fields, including art and culture, health and fitness and financial and real estate services. Kristen has written for USA Today, SFGate and the Knot.