When choosing dwarf Alberta spruce for pots, consider miniature varieties, like Tiny Tower (Picea glauca conica ‘MonRon’). This little cutie reaches a maximum height of 4 to 6 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide. The slow growth rate means you can keep it tucked into containers for a few years. Tiny Tower has bright green leaves that shift to gray as they mature. It’s hardy in Zones 3 to 8. At Christmas, you’ll often see mini Christmas trees in pots. These are usually dwarf Alberta spruce and can be planted into the landscape after the holiday.
You can still grow a tasty crop of spring peas even if you don’t have a big yard. Look for container pea varieties, like this yummy sugar snap type, Little Crunch. With container peas, you may or may not need a trellis; it depends on how tall plants become. Little Crunch grows 24 to 30 inches tall, which makes it a perfect fit for a typical tomato cage. When growing peas in pots, don’t forget to water. Consistent soil moisture—especially once flowers start appearing—helps ensure a sweet harvest. If you battle rabbits in your yard, growing pots of peas can make it easier to beat the bunnies without having to fence a pea patch. Just know that rabbits (and deer) love peas, so you may need to protect pots on an open patio.
When you design outdoors you can use plants and trees as your statement decor. The Gilkesons wisely worked with the existing trees including a gorgeous crape myrtle which provides a striking, natural punctuation point in the walled garden. You can tell designers are at work here: the fabric colors on outdoor furniture perfectly coordinate with the caladium in a vibrant blue pot.
When decorating a space, never underestimate the power of plants. Go for a mix of sizes and for a more dynamic look vary the leaf shape. The snake plant on the floor is angular and vertically oriented, while the lush fiddle leaf fig has large undulating leaves. Save yourself a bit of cash by periodically clipping from an interesting shrub in your back yard. Place them in a large pot, add water and you have an instant statement-making centerpiece.
Fuchsia is a showstopper in part to full shade conditions with its dangling, multi-colored flowers. ‘Bellinto Compact Red And Violet’ fuchsia delivers a classic pink and purple color combination in a small plant that’s perfect for pots. Plants grow 8 to 16 inches tall and 10 to 14 inches wide. Look for fuchsia in many different color pairings, including pastel pink and lavender, or white and red. Flowers also come in solid shades, such as orange or deep red. Fuchsia is a hummingbird magnet, so display plants where you can easily view them from indoors to watch the air show.
This variety of rosemary is beloved for its winter hardiness outdoors, but it also makes a fine indoor plant. The secret to success is to avoid overwatering (a clay pot helps) and growing it on the cool side through winter. Harvest leaves as needed to season meats and soups. Botanical name: Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Arp’
As summer wears on and container gardens grow large, watering can occupy large chunks of time.
Easy Solution: Enhance soil’s ability to retain water by mixing in water crystals. These small crystals blend into soil and absorb water, turning into a jelly-type material that’s packed with water for plant roots to absorb. Follow package directions for application rates by pot size.
Also known as oxalis, this is a versatile weed that grows in sun or shade, moist or dry soil. It’s a clover look-alike, with heart shape leaves and yellow flowers. Blooms fade to form upright seed pods that explode when ripe, flinging seeds away from the mother plant. It also roots from stem pieces. It’s happy to grow in lawns, planting beds, gravel drives or vegetable garden paths. Oxalis is a common weed in nursery pots, so be sure to check before adding plants to your landscape. The best way to beat it in the lawn is to mow high and fertilize to grow a healthy, thick lawn. In planting beds, carefully hand-pull or spray with herbicide.
Potted evergreens are excellent for year-round use and can be especially effective during winter months for adding a touch of classic holiday charm. Keep the overall look simple by planting the evergreens in pots covered in interesting, organic textural materials such as burlap, linen or birch bark. For a more finished look, cover the top of the potting soil with moss.
Dress up your coffee table with greens, such as Boston fern, and accessories. Since ferns love moist soil, using organic clay pots lined with pea gravel gives you the option to lift the plant and water for easy care, says Karin Jeffcoat, owner of Cote Designs, a floral and event studio in Aiken, S.C.
If you have a collection of pewter serving sets that never get used, why not give them new purpose as floral vessels? Add potting soil inside of a gravy boat or goblet, then carefully pot a flower or plant inside of it. For an extra layer of decoration, cover the soil with dianthus cut to size and held in place with floral pins.
First described in 1882, this bromeliad can be grown on a slap or in a pot. It works as an epiphyte or a rooted-in-soil houseplant. The unusual feature of Aechmea brassicoides is that, when the flower stalks form, they pierce through the inner leaves of the plant. It is also sometimes referred to as Gravisia brassicoides.
Ornamental peppers are popular holiday plants with colorful, decorative fruits. Give your plant a cool spot that gets lots of bright light, and water as needed to keep the soil from drying out. Some ornamental peppers have been treated with chemicals, and others just aren't good for eating, so enjoy the fruits only as ornamentals. Don't consume them or let children or pets come in contact with them. Annual ornamental peppers can stay in their pots or be transplanted into the garden after all danger of frost has passed. They'll grow until the first hard frost. This variety is 'NuMex Easter.'
Cheerful and bright, marigolds make an easy-to-grow addition to any garden plan—in pots or planting beds. These perky annuals bring terrific color all season long. What you might not know is that marigolds pack a punch to many insects, including mosquitoes, thanks to chemical insecticides they release. That’s why marigolds have such a strong odor when you touch them. Both flowers and leaves release the chemicals, but blossoms deliver the strongest punch. Other insects that marigolds deter include aphid, whitefly, thrips, tomato hornworm, Mexican bean beetle and squash bug. Tuck marigolds into pots on the patio to make summer evenings less buggy. Or use them in the vegetable garden to help repel pests.
If you want to add live greenery to your front porch entry but worry about proper care and upkeep, stick with arborvitae in ceramic pots. As long as the front porch receives direct sunlight for a good portion of the day, the trees will thrive for a month or so leading up to the end of the holiday season. After that, it's best to plant them outside in full sunlight.
Try a "Pick ‘n’ Pluck Salad Bar": Loose leaf cut-and-come-again lettuce varieties can be planted as seeds or seedlings in a container for a quick pick salad. Choose salad ingredients with different leaf textures and colors for a vibrant and healthy salad, says Anne Gibson, who has coined the phrase "The Micro Gardener." Alternate these around the container and when the lettuces have at least eight leaves, you can start harvesting as you rotate around the pot.
Clematis breeders are working to develop smaller plants that adapt well to containers and small gardens. Tekla Garland clematis delivers. This pretty vine opens 4- to 5-inch-wide flowers non-stop from early summer through fall. Blossoms boast a reddish-pink hue that shifts as individual flowers age. Plants tend to be bushy and are ideal for growing in containers on a pot size tuteur. Tuck into a spot in light shade to full sun for best flowering. To prune, in late winter or early spring, cut all stems back to 6 inches above soil. Vines grow 4 to 5 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
If you can provide impatiens with enough humidity, these pretty annuals will add color to your windowsill garden for weeks. While they tolerate the average home temperature, they need at least 50% humidity. Group them with other plants, grow them in a bathroom or near the kitchen sink, or sit their pots in shallow trays filled with pebbles and a little water to give them the moisture they need. Another option: mist your impatiens daily.