In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
To give your container planting a nice, rounded crown, place the plants along the sides at a 45-degree angle.
First, The Pot
For ease of maintenance, use a large pot. Big pots don't need to be watered as often, and you can fit lots of plants into them. The minimum size is 14 inches, 16 inches is perfect, and anything over 18 inches can't be moved unless you have the services of three men and a boy.
You absolutely, positively must have a saucer. The saucer collects the run-off water, which will provide humidity to the plants -- imperative during the dry summer months. But be sure to set the container up on 2 x 4 blocks inside the saucer so the bottom of the pot doesn't sit in water.
Then the Soil
Always use fresh, new potting soil. Don't skimp here. Your plants are going to have to live in this medium for a long time, so do them -- and yourself -- a favor and start with the best. Mix in a handful of slow-release fertilizer prior to planting.
Use a small piece of plastic window screen to cover the drainage hole. It allows water to drain freely and keeps the soil in and the insects out. It's cheap too.
Select the location for your container garden prior to planting. Once filled with soil and plants, pots get very heavy. Keep ease of watering as well as aesthetics in mind when you place containers in your landscape. You'll be doing a lot of watering over the course of a season and you'll appreciate convenience more and more as time goes by!
Container Weight Loss Plan
Here's a tip to save weight: If you are planting annuals in a deep pot, fill the bottom half with styrofoam peanuts, cover the peanuts with landscape fabric so the soil won't fall through, then fill with potting soil. The roots of most annual plants only go down 8 to 12 inches, so the soil in the bottom of the pot is wasted. This only works for annuals, but it's a good tip if you are gardening on a deck where weight is a consideration.
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