Exercise Your Green Thumb – Grow a Planter Garden this Season

The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.
~ Alfred Austin

Get your hands a little dirty while creating something beautiful this summer with a planter or container garden. Cramped for space? No problem. These “urban gardening” ideas mean you can grow a large variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers and herbs in a small setting, pretty much anywhere your heart — and space — dictates, including rooftops, balconies, sidewalks or that little unused spot in the backyard.

Gardening can allow for a lot of creativity and imagination, says Joyce Leung, Marketing Communications for Terra Greenhouses. If flowers are not your favourite, consider berries as an easy — and deliciously edible — alternative. Strawberries, one of the easiest to grow in a container, are an excellent choice, followed by blueberries and raspberries. These all require full sun, but be careful not to overheat and dry them out. “You don’t have to choose a large pot or a basic container when growing berries in your yard,” says Leung.

“Consider hanging baskets which add a fun contrast to a space if berries, such as strawberries, begin to hang down from the planter.”

Pots with bright colours or ones that match your patio theme and décor are also fun and popular choices, as they enhance your living space while creating both an efficient and functional garden no matter where you live. “Summer outdoor planters can create that perfect bright, colourful look in all areas of your yard,” says Leung. “Planters are extremely versatile and you can easily move them around for your guests to enjoy during your backyard parties or even to spruce up your home’s entryway.”

Once you have selected your container, next comes plant choice: choosing flowers and plants that add bright colours and interesting texture to the planter are important, but you also need varieties that grow well together. If your planter will be in full sun all day, all your plants need to tolerate those conditions. Some plants actually grow better when they’re planted next to compatible companions, while some don’t “play well with others.” Leung also says to ensure you get full enjoyment of your planter’s beauty, it’s important that all your flowers bloom during the same season. You don’t want some flowers to bloom in spring and others to bloom late summer.

Choosing the right size pot is one of the most important considerations when creating summer planters. Ensure the pot has a small hole at the bottom to allow the water to easily drain out and to avoid flooding any flowers. Soil choice is also vital, as you need soil that works well for planters and contains the right amount of minerals and other nutrients. The right soil gives plants an extra boost while ensuring they grow healthy, strong, and vibrant.

Cathy Commisso, owner of Satellite Garden Centre in Hamilton, says that while the plant tag “is your friend,” when thinking about sun and water, she also offers the inspiring slogan, “Thrill, Spill and Fill” when looking for creative planter ideas. “You always want a centrepiece, something to catch the eye, or the ‘Thrill,’” she says, maybe something spiky or a bougainvillea. The Spill cascades over the sides of the planter and softens the edges, such as wave petunias, while the Fill, takes up the space in between, such as geraniums. After the essential watering and fertilizing, there’s another vital component many don’t heed. “And don’t forget to deadhead,” says Commisso. “Pinching off the dead or dying heads of the flowers will allow for essential regrowth all summer long, and make your planters look beautiful and last longer.”

This summer don’t let your limited space or even limited knowledge keep you from growing a beautiful, flourishing garden, whether it’s flowers, plants, fruits or a combination of them all. Planter and container gardens are the perfect way to flex your green thumb, impress your friends and then, most importantly, enjoy everything that blossoms.


Local Links

Satellite Garden Centre, Hamilton

Dutch Mill Country Market, Dundas

Harper’s Garden Centre, Hamilton

Holland Park, Dundas

Terra Greenhouses, Hamilton


by Allison Dempsey

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