by Judy Kautz, OSU Extension Master Gardener
It’s Memorial Day weekend, and a great time to think about decorating your landscape for weekend visitors. One way to brighten up your garden or patio as a salute to Memorial Day is to create a patriotic salute to those who fought for America. Why not show your patriotism with a festive red, white and blue container for your table or patio? Or better yet, plant a patriotic flower bed with red, white and blue flowers that will brighten up any landscape for Memorial Day!
Assembling a patriotic container is very easy and inexpensive as well; here are some step-by-step instructions for creating a lovely patriotic pot. First, find a large container with good drainage holes that is at least 18 inches wide. It doesn’t have to be a fancy pot – anything left over in your garden can be festive. If your pot is deep and you don’t want to spend a fortune in potting soil, fill the bottom third of your pot with crushed Styrofoam or empty plastic soda bottles (lids on). This will also help to keep the weight of the finished pot to a manageable level so it can be moved. Next, add a layer of potting soil, leaving room at the top for your plants.
Choosing red, white, and blue plants and adding an American flag to a container creates a stunning display for your patio or picnic table.
Choosing red, white and blue plants for your container is not difficult; there are many plants that will work just fine and create a lovely patriotic display. For red plants, try geraniums, petunias, annual salvia, verbena, pentas or celosia for sun, or begonias and impatiens for shade. White flowers are readily available as well, including petunias, zinnias, geraniums, phlox and cosmos for sun, and begonias and impatiens for shade. Finding blue flowers is a bit more challenging, but blue daze, ageratum and salvia, all sun-loving, come closest. One really true blue flower you might want to try is the balloon flower! You can also use deep purple petunias and verbena as well as lobelia (heat-loving variety) for a close-to-blue option. For a nice contrast, you can use green leafed plants like coleus and dusty miller for fillers and insert your red, white and blue flowers into the pot with them. Finally, decide how you want to arrange your plants, place them on top of the soil in the pot and fill in with more soil around the plants. Water your pot thoroughly after planting and place in a sunny or shady spot in your garden, or use your pot as a centerpiece for your picnic table.
Here's an easy way to create centerpieces - use water dyed blue and combine with red and white flowers and American flag - stunning!
There are many other possibilities to create a patriotic atmosphere. Choose vessels that are red and blue and plant them with only white flowers. Tie a red, white and blue ribbon around your pots to further emphasize the colors. Insert a flag in your pots for an added touch; small flags are readily available at local craft or dollar stores and they are usually inexpensive. In fact, if you have other pots arranged in your yard or patio, place small flags or colorful, patriotic pinwheels in the pots for a striking display. With this option, it doesn’t matter what colors of plants and flowers you have in your pots, as the flags or pinwheels give a patriotic flair. For all your containers, remember to check them for water; plants in pots dry out faster and will need frequent watering on hot days.
Use festive pinwheels to decorate any pot or vase!
If you want to create a striking landscape for our patriotic holidays, try planting a patriotic garden bed instead of a planter. You can plant your patriotic colored plants in rows or sections, depending on your preference. Try these combinations: 1) Red Sweet William, White Angelonia (summer snapdragon) and Blue Daze, all heat-tolerant and sun-loving; 2) Red Tropical Sage, White Vinca and Blue Trailing Lobelia is another good combination, although lobelia may be difficult to find this late in the season; 3) Choose Red Penta, White Lantana and Blue Sage for another striking grouping in a garden bed. Patriotic garden beds can be a stunning addition to any home!
Show your American pride by creating a patriotic container or garden bed to place in a conspicuous spot in your landscape. You’ll be delighted with the results!
by Judy Kautz, OSU Extension Master Gardener
Mother Nature is all over the map with our weather this year! However, there is a solution for any type of weather we encounter – container gardening! Containers are great for flowers or vegetables; they are versatile, colorful, and have great utility, and best of all, they can be moved inside or under cover if we expect bad weather. In short, they are a perfect all-weather solution!
Containers are ideal for any environment; they can adorn patios, porches, sidewalks, decks, and balconies. They are portable and can be moved to follow the sun or shade, depending on the plant requirements. Containers can avoid soil, insect and fertilization problems, and they can add a spot of color to any area where you want a lift, or provide delicious herbs or vegetables for your recipes. They are ideal if you love plants and gardening.
There are many types of containers available – clay, plastic, metal, ceramic, wood, fiberglass – all are good choices; just adjust watering and fertilizer to suit what type you use. You can use anything you have available…an old wheelbarrow, or even a pair of cowboy boots! Make sure there are drain holes in the bottom, because good drainage is essential. You can put a coffee filter over the drain holes to prevent the soil from spilling. Size is important because you need to make sure there is enough room for the types of plants you use – at least 16 inches in diameter is ideal. Additionally, you should allow at least 6 – 8 inches of depth, again depending on the plant size.
You can use all sorts of items as planters, even a pair of cowboy boots!
Soil is important, and any good lightweight soil mix designed for potting is preferable – just look for the words “potting soil” on the label. Do not use soil from the garden or yard, as it is too heavy to work in containers. Fill your container with damp soil mix to within 1 to 2 inches from the top; soil should be moist, but not dripping wet. You can plant seeds or transplants from your local garden center, and most any plant, flower or vegetable, can grow in a container. Be sure to loosen the roots a bit to stimulate them to grow into the soil.
Arranging plants in your containers depends on whether you are creating a flower arrangement or growing vegetables. A general rule of thumb for flowers is to use “thrillers, fillers and spillers”. Start with something tall or spiky, like grass or tall flower - this is your thriller - and place it in the center of the container, or towards the back. Next, add mass with a plant that has a round, full shape – this is your filler. Finally, soften the edges with a trailing or cascading plant that will spill over the edge of your container – this is your spiller. Choose a combination of complementing colors or textures, and choose plants that you like! This combination will provide you with an attractive and interesting container.
Here is a container with the cordyline as thriller, orange impatiens and coleus as fillers, and super bells as spillers, all which make a lovely decoration on your patio.
It is perfectly acceptable to grow your vegetables in pots, too, and sometimes, this is a better solution, especially if you don’t have much room in your yard. A container with vegetables like tomatoes, peppers or squash that is placed in a sunny spot on your patio or deck can produce a wonderful crop of tasty vegetables if you give them water and fertilizer. Make sure you have enough depth and width in your container to handle your chosen vegetables, and be sure to feed often.
You will also need to water your containers more often than your garden beds, usually every two or three days, and more often when it is very hot. Fertilize your containers frequently, usually every two or three weeks, as containers need more nutrients since there is limited soil and increased watering. Use either water-soluble or slow release fertilizer – both are good – or combine the two types.
Combine several pots in one area for a very attractive display, or group your plants by color or size. If bad weather is expected, you can easily move your containers to a more sheltered area to protect them from the elements. Containers are indeed the perfect all-weather solution!
This container is also a mix of veggies and flowers, for an attractive display that is also tasty!
Welcome to Dishing the Garden Dirt!