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Saturday, June 11, 2016

A Pot for a Shady Spot

My entry way was lacking a certain something this spring.  So I decided to jazz it up by putting a planter there.

The trouble was, I couldn't find a pot that was tall, inexpensive, light weight and in a color that matched the house.  While shopping, and looking at the displays of pots, I noticed that the stores often display the pots by stacking one on top of the other.  This gave me the idea to do the same on my porch.  Instead of using one pot, I used two, stacking one on top of the other to give me the height I desired.

Instead of buying a heavy ceramic planter, I purchased a plastic one. This was much cheaper, should stand up to cold weather better, and is much easier to lift.  Plastic also comes in a greater variety of colors than ceramic.  So, I was able to find one with shades that match my front door at a local big box store.  The pot shown has a diameter of about 2 feet (0.6 of a meter).

The pots did not come with drainage holes. So I perforated the bottom of the pot by hammering an ice pick through the bottom of the pot in about 12 different places.  (Do not try this with a ceramic or terra cotta pot, it will crack.)

For potting mix, I combined 1/3 sphagnum peat, 1/3 topsoil, 1/3 perlite and about 1/3 cup organic tomato fertilizer.  Alternately, a good pre-bagged mix made especially for potted plants could be used.   Do NOT use plain top soil. It will pack down, will not allow enough drainage for the plants, and will shorten the life of the plant substantially.

The garden shows always tell you to fill a pot with a plants for "thrilling, filling, and spilling." In other words, an eye-catching plant that sticks upward, plants that fill in the space between, and plants that spill over the side of the pot.

Because this pot is in full shade I planted it with hearty shade-loving plants, in accordance with the advice above, as follows:

  • "Thrilling": Hosta - I divided some hostas in my garden bed this spring, so I used one in the pot. I am not certain what kind of hosta it is because they were planted by the previous owner of my home.  I suspect that it might be 'Patriot.'  The hosta is the largest and most upright plant in the pot.  Later in the year, it should send up spikes of white flowers and become even taller.
  • "Filling":  Japanese Forest Grass - This was also from a division of a plant already in my garden.  The forest grass adds a nice bright yellow color to lighten the shade, and helps to fill space in the pot.
  • "Filling":  Begoinas - I got 4 red-leaved, pink-flowered begonias for $2 at the local big box store.  I only used 2 in this pot and put the others elsewhere in my garden. The leaves echo the color of the pot and help to fill the space.
  • "Spilling" - Lobelia - I started these from seed, under grow lights, indoors, in the early spring.  These make small vines that will eventually spill over the side of the pot. The flowers are an electric blue that contrasts well with the red. The foliage has a purplish/red tinge to it (difficult to see in these photos) that goes well with the begonias. It is also green enough to go with the hosta.  Thus the leaves of the lobelia form a kind-of color bridge between the hosta and the begonias.
All of the plants chosen grow well in shade.

Do you have any extra plants laying around?  Extra seeds?    Too many of a perennial that needs division?  Consider potting them up!  A pot like this could just as easily be filled with sun loving plants, and then placed in a sunny location.

Pots can be used to decorate entryways, hide unsightly objects in the yard and fill blank spaces in the garden beds.  Be creative!  The possibilities are legion!

Happy gardening! :) 

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