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Benefits of Container Gardening

There are personal and environmental benefits to gardening in containers. First, it’s a good way for beginners to start small. A pot with a few plants in it is less intimidating than designing and executing a garden of any size. Instead of figuring the best place for a garden, digging up the lawn and planning heights, food production and bloom time of flowers, you can fill a pot with soil, plant some ornamentals and food, water it in and be done!


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Photo Credit: Eclectic Patio by Dallas Media and Blogs Sarah Greenman

You have control over the size of your garden, and there are fewer decisions to make. There is less maintenance for a container garden, too. I spend hours weeding, dead-heading flowers, checking for bugs, harvesting and dragging hoses from here to there (I know – the garden writer without an irrigation system! Blasphemy!). When containers are clustered in one spot, all your supplies and chores are also in one spot. 

Container Gardening | Take Notes

Growing only a few plants also lets you study them. If you make notes about their performances, you can expand your gardening knowledge each year, and you may eventually be inclined to dig up some lawn for a bigger garden with more varieties. On the other hand, you may never get the gardening bug, and containers may suit your needs to garden minimally!

If you only have a small outdoor living area, containers are perfect for having a bit of greenery in your life. It’s a bonus to get food, herbs and cut flowers from your deck or balcony. Containers can even be part of the design, so a small collection can be a tastefully designed art project. 


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Photo Credit: Modern Patio by New York Architect Resolution: 4 Architecture

Portability of Container Gardens

Being portable, containers can also be moved around. They can be brought in for the winter or placed for a special event. 

As for the environment, it’s important we grow our own food, especially in urban areas. As Monsanto creeps into our gardens more and more each day, we need to retain our independence by growing our own food, saving seed and sharing with out community. Even one pot with one tomato plant in it is a way to fight back. Anyone with a smidgeon of space can grow a little bit of food. If you’ve never grown your own food before, you’ll be hooked on the freshness and flavor!

Saving Water

Containers also save water. Instead of a sprinkler showering a garden and its surrounds, you can put the right amount exactly where it needs to go. The same stands for fertilizers (organic, of course). Instead of broadcasting them over spaces where there are no plants, you can give a container planting exactly what it needs. 

Self watering containers gauge when plants need water then delivers it to them. Alternatively, you can set up a drip system to cover a series of pots that are close together. That is the most resource efficient way to water. And you don’t have to think about it. Put your system on a timer, and you won’t have to think about it. That’s great for the gardener without a lot of time to spend fussing over a garden. 

The best containers are recycled or upcycled. See the author’s ‘container garden’ Pinterest board for recycling and irrigation ideads!


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Photo Credit: Traditional Outdoor Planters by Other Metro Wayfair

One for Every Porch or Balcony

Container gardens makes a lot of sense, from the need or desire to grow food in a small area to accommodating disabled and elderly people to saving resources with efficient water systems. Soon we will see a small garden on every porch or balcony!

(*You are reading an article originally posted to Build Direct Blog)

8 Flowers That Dazzle With Fall Color

Although springtime seems to own bragging rights to the most profusely blooming flowers, autumn is not far behind. Now that we’re done with the scorching summer months, it’s time to kick our fall gardens in gear by adding some dependable bloomers in autumnal tones, offset by brilliant blues and purples. Most of these flowering plants will work well in many areas of the country, but be sure to check with your local nursery professionals to choose the best varieties for your area.

Photo: Heather Lacey | Gardening She Knows 

Purple Sage (Salvia spp)

The salvia genus offers a wide range of plants that feature those enviable purple fall blooms. This coloration makes it a perfect foil for more fall-hued plants, like rudbeckia and Red Hot Poker. Because there are a wide range of salvias with varying heights and sun requirements, be sure to check with your local nursery to make the best choice for your garden. Great varieties to consider are: Salvia leucantha, Salvia farinacea and Salvia guaranitica.

  • USDA zones: 8 to 10; colder climates can use purple sage as an annual
  • Water requirement: average
  • Light requirement: full sun to dappled shade
  • Mature size: 18 to 48 inches tall
  • Bloom time: summer to fall
  • Planting tips: plant in spring or fall and prune back after the first killing freeze
Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

This staple in the summer-to-fall garden features sunny daisy-like blooms with dark centers on top of tall, coarse stems. Although it’s attractive to birds, bees and butterflies, all parts of this plant are poisonous, so be aware of this if you have small children or pets that frequent your garden. Black-eyed Susans pair beautifully with mums, ornamental grasses and Autumn Joy sedum.

  • USDA zones: 5a to 10a
  • Water requirement: average to low
  • Light requirement: full to partial sun
  • Mature size: 3 feet tall
  • Bloom time: summer to fall 
  • Planting tips: plant in spring or fall and remove spent blooms. Prune after the first killing freeze and mulch during winter
Fall Aster (Symphotrichum oblongifolium)

Asters are time-honored plants in the fall garden, and with their profusion of purple daisy-like blooms, it’s easy to see why. They are deer resistant and are attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. They also are a great companion plant for ornamental grasses and other flowering perennials, such as rudbeckia.

  • USDA zones: 4a to 9b
  • Water requirement: average
  • Light requirement: full sun
  • Mature size: 2 to 3 feet tall
  • Bloom time: late summer to fall 
  • Planting tips: plant in spring or fall and pinch back growth regularly throughout the summer to encourage a tight-growing form. Cut back after the first killing freeze and mulch lightly over the winter
Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia spp)

This unusual plant features stunning red and yellow flower spikes a top slim green stems and leaves, creating a dramatic focal point in the fall perennial bed. Red Hot Poker is also very deer resistant, while at the same time being attactive to bees, butterfiles and birds. Pair it with the blue or purple tones of Salvia leucantha or fall asters.

  • USDA zones: 6a to 10b
  • Water requirement: low once established
  • Light requirement: full sun
  • Mature size: 3 feet tall
  • Bloom time: Late summer to fall 
  • Planting tips: plant in spring or fall and prune back before the first killing freeze
Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum spp)

Nothing quite says “autumn” like mums, with their multipetaled flowers in shades of russet, cream, orange, yellow and pink. These mounding plants are perfect for edges of borders and beds as well as containers, and combine well with Black-eyed Susans, Mexican bush sage and fall asters.

  • USDA zones: 6 to 10
  • Water requirement: average
  • Light requirement: full sun
  • Mature size: 3 feet tall
  • Bloom time: fall 
  • Planting tips: plant in the fall, cut back after the first killing freeze and mulch lightly over the winter
Autumn Joy Sedum (Sedum “Autumn Joy’)

Also called stonecrop, sedum comes from the succulent family of plants, so you already know it’s low maintenance and drought tolerant. If you’ve never grown this plant before, you will be delighted with its fleshly leaves and broccoli-like blooms that start out green, changing to pink and finally bronze as they age. They will look spectacular when planted with other drought-tolerant plants, like succulents, ornamental grasses and flowering perennials.

  • USDA zones: 6 to 11
  • Water requirement: low
  • Light requirement: full sun to partial shade
  • Mature size: 2 feet tall
  • Bloom time: late summer to fall 
  • Planting tips: plant in spring or fall and remove flower stalks when they are done blooming, new growth resembling tiny cabbages will emerge in the spring
Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella)

Blanket flower is a reseeding annual that features trustworthy blooms in shades of red, yellow and orange, making it a perfect addition to your fall-hued garden. Great for meadows and wildflower gardens as well as for perennial beds and borders, blanket flower pairs beautifully with ornamental grasses as well as rudbeckia and salvia.

  • USDA zones: as an annual, it will fare well in most all zones
  • Water requirement: average to low once established
  • Light requirement: full to partial sun
  • Mature size: 18 to 36 inches tall
  • Bloom time: summer to fall 
  • Planting tips: plant in spring or fall and let seeds fall to the ground when the plant is done blooming, remove spent flower stalks after the first frost
Rose (Rosa spp)

You only thought roses were just a springtime feature in your garden, but if you care for them properly, some of the repeat bloomers will give you a dazzling fall display as well. Pair them with ornamental grasses and other flowering perennials, like Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha)

  • USDA zones: 2 to 10, depending upon variety
  • Water requirement: average, but may need supplemental water during extreme heat
  • Light requirement: full to partial sun
  • Mature size: 2 to 4 feet and taller, depending on the variety
  • Bloom time: spring, summer and fall intermittently
  • Planting tips: plant in late winter or early spring, and prune hard around Valentine’s Day
    • to promote more fall blooms, fertilize with a rose fertilizer in the first part of September and again in October, and give the bushes a light trim in late summer.