Tips on Planting Containers

Useful tips to help you plant the perfect container display.

Credit: iStock / alicat

Container planting with flower arrangements

Learn how to plant containers with tips from the pros

Container Planting Prep

• Water your potted nursery plants at least one hour before they are to be transplanted into a container.

• Terra cotta pots are very porous. Soak them in water for one hour before planting them up.

How Much Plant Material Should Go into a Container Planting?

There are two schools of thought when it comes to how much plant material should go into a container planting. Bruce McDonald of VanDusen Botanical Garden feels that less is more. He recommends using fewer plants so there will be less competition for water, light and nutrients. While such plantings start out looking a little sparse, giving plants the room to grow results in a healthier container planting in the long run. The opposite view holds “the more the merrier.” Many sources recommend close plantings (root balls touching) of nursery-grown plants into containers. This results in a planting that is instantly lush and that with regular feeding grows into a real showstopper. Choose what’s right for you. (Note: Perennials and woody plants need space to grow, while closely packed annuals will thrive with adequate water and feeding.)

Container Planting Trial Run

Before planting up your container, give your display a trial run. Place the plants on top of the soil and move them around until you find a pleasing arrangement. The tallest plant does not always have to be placed in the centre of your display. Consider an asymmetrical style, often seen in European-inspired floral arrangements. Depending on where your container will be situated, you may want to plant the tallest plant off centre and let the other plants sweep down from that high point. Play with the plants and imagine how they will grow.